The world is going tariff crazy! President Trump put tariffs on China, and they respond in kind. Recently, the news is filled with the decision to impose tariffs on Mexican tomatoes while “dumping” charges are investigated. In the background, the U.S. has won a World Trade Organization action declaring that Europe has been subsidizing large civilian aircraft and that these subsidies have had an adverse impact on the U.S. aircraft industry.
When we think of specialty cheese, we think of its accompaniments—wine, beer, fruit, jam and perhaps a platter of charcuterie—but the cheese itself is generally always served fresh and in its original form, served pure and simple.
The hottest trend in retailing is something called “omni-channel.”
The big example that disrupted the whole industry was when Amazon bought Whole Foods. Though this combination of “Bricks and Clicks”—or physical stores and online purchases—is often what is spoken of when talking about Omni-Channel, it can also mean many different sales venues and delivery options.
The cheese market is in flux:
- Milk prices have been increasing. Feed prices went up last year, so dairy farmers raised fewer cows. Yet, the United States has more cheese in storage than any year since record-keeping commenced in 1917.
- The United Kingdom is less than a year from leaving the European Union, and there is no agreement yet between the EU and the UK. If no agreement is reached, the default is for World Trade Organization tariffs to prevail, and these are substantial.
- The UK is a substantial importer of specialty cheese from the Continent, so if prices rise due to tariffs, demand in the UK will fall, which means European producers will be looking for new markets. The U.S. is a prime target.
- Mexico is finalizing a trade agreement with the European Union, and the agreement includes a protection for European geographic indications — a term for products that correspond with a specific region, such as Champagne sparkling wine or Parmesan cheese. By using a grandfather clause in the Mexican/EU agreement, Mexico will protect U.S. cheese producers who use these names that are protected in Europe. But this is supposed to be effectuated through a revised NAFTA accord, and the U.S. cheese producers aren’t persuaded that this will actually happen.
- President Trump has attacked Canada for its dairy price supports. In response to tariffs from the U.S., both Mexico and China have put tariffs on U.S. cheese.
For most consumers, the day is long past where the only place to purchase specialty cheese is a high-end specialty store. The news reports are filled with speculation as to how Amazon’s expected takeover of Whole Foods might impact both organizations and their offerings. That is for the future… immediately, though, consumers are being offered a new opportunity to shop at “deep-discounter” retailers.
It is never hard to find people who love specialty cheese. But there is often some holdback because cheese is high in fat content. This has always been an overrated concern because cheese is so rich. People only eat small amounts at a time.