California's cheese production hit a new record in 2004
According to preliminary estimates from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, production of natural cow's milk cheese in California reached a record 1.994 billion pounds in 2004, an 8.9% increase over 2003. Reported growth in 2004 - - 163 million pounds - - was the single largest annual production increase in the state's history. California is the nation's leading milk producer and nearly half of California's milk supply goes into cheese production. A study last year showed that 40% of California milk is now going out-of-state, mainly in the form of cheese and butter. California produces one out of every five pounds of cheese made in the U.S. The Golden State has four of the world's 10 largest cheese plants, including the world's largest single-site plant.
California currently is the second largest cheese producing state in the nation, and industry experts are projecting that the state will pass Wisconsin in total cheese production within a few years. The California Milk Advisory Board is actively expanding its promotion of California cheese outside of the state, and last year launched a national television advertising campaign. California cheese is now available at retail in most states through many of the country's leading supermarket and grocery chains. California also produces the most butter, ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, and nonfat dry milk.