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“Why is goat milk more expensive than cow milk?” This is a question we hear from time to time, and if you’ve ever compared prices, you might have experienced some sticker shock — but there’s a good reason why goat milk products come at a higher price. Buckle your seatbelts — you’re about to learn a whole lot of goat facts!

The price of cheese in the marketplace can vary for numerous reasons: scale of production; season of the year; special production techniques; age and affinage; miles travelled to reach the consumer; and milk source. The four animals most widely known as the sources of milk for cheesemaking are cows, goats, sheep, and water buffalo.

To understand why goat milk cheese is more expensive than cow milk cheese, consider the availability of the milk, the production process of the cheese, and the supply chain (or ‘path to market’).

Milk: Supply vs. Demand
As with cheese, the answer to this question starts with the milk. In the United States dairy industry, cows are king — or rather, queen. In 2020, there were nearly 9.4 million milk cows in the US, producing approximately 224 billion pounds of milk to fuel the cow milk dairy industry. Contrast that with goats: as of January 2021, there were 420,000 milk goats and kids in the US — about 4% the number of milk cows. Furthermore, goats are smaller animals that produce about 10% of the total milk output of cows. Demand for goat milk cheese has grown consistently over the past several years as consumers explore alternatives to cow milk, and goat cheese has become more commonplace. All of this points to the fact that there is less goat milk available in the US from which to make cheese, and high demand for it, leading to a higher price on the shelf.

Cow dairies also receive a substantial amount of funding and subsidies from the government and marketing support from state associations traditionally known as “milk marketing boards” or “milk advisory boards” (like Real California Milk and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, for example) while goat and sheep milk dairies are not included in such programs.

Cheese: Production and Aging
Another key factor in the cost of cheese is how it’s produced. Are traditional, artisan methods employed by a farmstead producer (i.e., a producer whose dairy is at the same physical location as their creamery)? Or is it a large-scale, high-tech operation that can achieve economies of scale? The number of employees involved (labor) and the time necessary to produce the cheese is key. Fresh cheeses that don’t require special production methods and extended aging will, in general, be less expensive than their aged counterparts. Cheeses that do require aging become more expensive because:

The Supply Chain
The miles a cheese must travel to reach the consumer, the number of times the cheese changes hands, and the work those hands must do all impact the final price of the cheese to the consumer. At retailers near our creamery in Arcata, Calif., our cheeses can sometimes be found at around half the price as they are on the East Coast!

Looking more closely at the supply chain, there are several factors that can drive up the cost of Humboldt Fog at the counter (spoiler alert, none of them are particularly sexy):

Ready for the quiz? Kidding! Thanks for following along and learning more about all of the factors that go into the price of goat milk and cheese — hopefully it’s given you a whole new perspective of the behind-the-scenes world of goats and cheesemaking, and some valuable information for your next trivia night, too.

Sources:

USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Milk Cows, 2011-2020
USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service: Milk Production, 2011-2020
USDA, Sheep and Goats Report
Kamin, Charlotte & McElroy, Nathan: A First Course in Cheese (10)

 

Here’s where you can find Chipotle Cacao Remix:

Humboldt County

Pacific Northwest

Northern California

Southern California

Rocky Mountain

Southwest and Central

Northeast and Mid-Atlantic

Southeast

Retailers: Do you carry Humboldt Fog Remixes and want to be added to the list? Send us an email: info@cypressgrovecheese.com

Life. Is. Busy. We’re all stretched for time, always running from one thing to the next, and it can be tough to get a wholesome meal on the table night after night.

We get it — and we’ve got you covered. Say hello to your new dinnertime trick: Cheeseboards for Dinner.

Cheeseboards for Dinner is our new campaign to help you combat that weeknight time crunch without sacrificing a delicious meal. In our opinion, goat cheese is a superfood: nutrient dense, packed with protein, and prime dinner material. We’ve developed a no-fail, no-fuss formula to bring your Cheeseboard for Dinner to life — all it takes is a few simple ingredients plus a little help from deli shortcuts, and dinner is served!

Build your board:

  1. Cheese! Aim for about 2 oz per person.
  2. Carb vehicle for easy eating — bagels, baguette, crackers, whatever you fancy.
  3. Veggies. We love grabbing a deli option like pre-made kale salad when we’re in a rush.
  4. Extra protein (optional, but it makes this a heftier meal). While you’re in the deli grabbing that kale salad, why not add a rotisserie chicken to your cart?
  5. Cheeseboard add-ons. Boost your board with cheeseboard classics like honey, jam, charcuterie — or not. Whatever sounds good and is on-hand!

After you make your Cheeseboard for Dinner, take a picture and share on Instagram! Tag us @cypressgrovers and use #cheeseboardsfordinner, and we’ll share our favorites.