JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest markets for American cheese in the Middle East, and demand for it has been steadily growing in the Kingdom, according to the USA Cheese Guild.
The US exported 16,800 tons worth $76 million to the Middle East in 2020, with Saudi Arabia accounting for 5,584 tons, or around a third of the total volume.
The USA Cheese Guild did not give figures for how much the Saudi market has grown. But it attributed the growth to increased brand awareness, trade campaigns and an expanded retail presence in Saudi outlets.
Chef Antonio El-Khoury, director of culinary programs in the Middle East and North Africa for the guild, said the international popularity of American cheese is due to its quality and varieties, as there are 1,000 types in the US.
The US has a rich and diverse history of cheese making, and its production of nearly 6 million tons per year exceeds that of France, Italy and Switzerland combined, according to the guild.
In order to further support American cheese in the Middle East, it has launched educational programs in collaboration with several organizations in the region.
The latest program was a culinary scholarship in Dubai, targeting young chefs and allowing them to study, work and learn more about American cheese.
It was in collaboration with the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA) Dubai and the Emirates Culinary Guild.
The USA Cheese Guild is part of the US Dairy Export Council, which is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, and has offices in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.