High U.S. imports of Irish butter drove total U.S. butter imports to a record high in July

A chart showing U.S. imports of butter from Ireland and the rest of the world

Total U.S. butter imports—driven by high imports of butter sourced from Ireland—reached record levels in July, supplanting a record set in May 2004. Total U.S. butter imports for July were 7.5 million pounds, with 5.8 million pounds (about 77 percent) coming from Ireland. Irish butter contains at least 82 percent butterfat (compared with at least 80 percent for most U.S. butter), is sourced from cows that are mainly grass fed, and is usually sold at a premium. Irish butter’s higher butterfat content is marketed as being superior for baking and as more pure than lower butterfat options. The recent rise in butter imports from Ireland can be partly attributed to the success of this marketing strategy and Irish butter’s popularity with many well known professional bakers and chefs. This chart appears in the ERS Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook newsletter released in September 2018.

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