Dairy research to increase exports helped during pandemic
Dairy research that was developed to increase exports became very useful during the COVID pandemic.
Dr. John Lucey is the Director of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Dairy Research. He tells Brownfield there has been a focus on extending the shelf life of cheeses to allow U.S. cheesemakers to move more products overseas without the product spoiling or performing poorly. “Think about the shelf life that might be needed for something like a mozzarella. It might be a month or two here in the U.S. but if we want to export to Latin America, to Asian countries, and other distant parts of the world, we might need six months or eight months, or even longer.”
Lucey says his team has developed a way to extend the shelf life of mozzarella cheese to about nine months, and that same technology was implemented by several cheesemakers during the COVID pandemic. “When all of those foodservice markets disappeared almost overnight with all of the shutdowns, a lot of our cheese factories were going, how can I make cheese and extend the shelf life so that maybe I can sell it in six months or nine months when the worst of these shutdowns are over.”
Lucey says the researchers work with the U.S. Dairy Export Council to improve products with potential for stronger export demand, “and then we do projects on each one of them, and they include Cheddar, Gouda, and cream cheese, you know, string cheese. We have projects over the last five or six years, and we’ve probably done projects on every one of them.”
Lucey says one goal of the Center for Dairy Research is to help increase the number of dairy exports, which increases milk prices for farmers.