Cash Cheddar block cheese closed Friday morning at $1.6850 per pound, up 1 3/4-cents on the week and 6 1/2-cents above a year ago.

The barrels, after losing 10 1/4-cents the previous week, finished last week at $1.63, 11 1/2-cents higher and 14 1/4-cents above a year ago; 21 cars of block were sold last week at the CME, highest total since early November 2018, and 19 of barrel.

The blocks gained a penny and a quarter Monday and stayed there Tuesday, at $1.6725. The barrels were unchanged both days, holding at $1.63, as traders await the March Dairy Products report Thursday afternoon.

Cheese demand reports were mixed last week, according to Dairy Market News. Some Midwestern producers suggest that demand is growing seasonally while others say orders have yet to pick up. Milk availability was balanced to short, compared to recent years and spot milk prices ranged from $1 over to $1 under class.

Most contacts continue to run on internally sourced milk. With fewer spot milk offers in general and cheese plant managers opting to ebb production schedules since the last half of 2018 when possible, regional contacts report a generally balanced cheese inventory, unlike national inventories, which remain a concern for the long-term market.

Western cheesemakers continue to receive plenty of milk and are busy making cheese. Some are running at or near full schedules while others are more cautious. Contracted cheese sales and offers of specialty cheeses seem to be moving well but buyers are hesitant to take additional loads. Overall demand is termed “uninspiring.” Cheese stocks are ample but not burdensome.

“Manufacturers hope the warming weather and outdoor festivities can resurrect the appetite for cheese as part of the backyard barbecue or picnic,” says DMN.

Butter traders, surprised by the larger than expected Cold Storage data, took the CME price down to $2.2550 Wednesday but it closed Friday at $2.27, down 1 1/4-cents on the week and 9 cents below a year ago with 26 sales on the week.

It gained a penny Monday but sank back a penny and a quarter Tuesday, to $2.2675.

Cream supplies bound for the churns were varied last week. Some plants have already noted tightness, others say they took on cream at prices similar to the previous week. Most expect it to tighten soon, as bottlers move nearer to wrapping up school orders.

Butter inventories continue to build in the West but not at a fast pace. A lot of cream is moving to ice cream so butter makers are not receiving the cream offers of previous weeks but still have enough for churning. Food service has started putting in butter replacement orders since their holiday stocks have cleared so butter sales are generally good.

Cash Grade A nonfat dry milk had a good week, climbing to $1.04 per pound on Friday, highest CME price since Jan. 15, up 4 cents on the week and 19 3/4-cents above a year ago.

The powder was unchanged Monday but inched backwards a half-cent Tuesday, to $1.0350.

Spot dry whey closed Friday at 32 3/4-cents per pound, down 1 1/4-cents on the week but 1 3/4-cents above a year ago; 19 sales were reported on the week.

The whey climbed a penny and a quarter Monday and stayed there Tuesday at 34 cents per pound.

Culling strong

The Agriculture Department’s latest Livestock Slaughter report shows dairy cow culling picked up in March and was well above March 2018.

An estimated 302,400 head were slaughtered under federal inspection in March, up 23,500 head from February and 15,500 head or 5.4% above a year ago. The three-month total stands at 879,800 head, up 42,500 or 5.1% from the same time a year ago.

Looking back, the USDA’s annual Livestock Slaughter Summary shows 3.15 million head of dairy cows exited the business in 2018, up 164,600 head from 2017 or 5.5%. The cull number in 2018 was up 102,700 head from 2017 or 3.6%.

Reports this week

The Agriculture Department issues its March “Ag Prices” report Tuesday afternoon, which includes the latest Milk-Feed Price Ratio. The April Federal order Class II, Class III, and Class IV milk prices are announced Wednesday afternoon, and the March “Dairy Products” report is issued Thursday afternoon.

Columnist Lee Mielke wraps up the week's dairy industry news.

Recommended for you