Sheep milk yogurt and cheese are major dairy products in many of the European and Asian countries. In many of these countries, sheep and goat milk is produced at much greater quantities than cow milk. In the United States, only about 4.3 million pounds of sheep milk is currently produced, and sheep milk yogurt and cheeses produced are considered specialty dairy products. However, over 13 million pounds of sheep milk cheeses were imported into the United States during 2001. To avoid competition with imported commodity cheeses with subsidies, U.S. processors are concentrating on production of specialty and artisanal cheeses. Seasonal variations in the sheep milk production have prompted processors to use some high-quality, frozen sheep milk to adjust processing to provide for a uniform supply of products throughout the year. The greatest potential for growth in the sheep milk products market is the production of value-added specialty cheeses and premium yogurt products.
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