March FMMO Class III, IV prices steady

Federal order Class III & IV milk prices steadied in March, according to the monthly price announcement from USDA's Ag Marketing Service.

March 2014 prices, compared to previous month and year, include:

• Class III: $23.33/cwt., down 2¢ from February 2014, but $6.40 more than March 2013. It's the first month-to-month decline since June 2013. It's $1.17 more than the comparable California Class 4b price. The 2014 Y-T-D average is $22.61/cwt., up $5.17 from the January-March 2013 average of $17.44/cwt.

• Class IV: $23.66/cwt., up 20¢ from February 2014 and $5.91 more than March 2013. The Class IV price has increased for nine consecutive months. The 2014 Y-T-D average is $23.14/cwt., up $5.43 from the January-March 2013 average of $17.71/cwt.


National Dairy Products Sales Report weekly highlights

USDA’s weekly National Dairy Products Sales Report indicated Grade AA butter prices averaged $1.90/lb. for the week ending March 29, up 4.9¢ from the previous week.
U.S. 40-lb. block cheddar cheese averaged $2.35/lb., up 8.1¢ from the previous week. The price for 500-lb. cheddar barrels, adjusted to 38% moisture, averaged $2.32/lb., up 4.1¢.

USDA Extra Grade dry whey averaged 66.7¢/lb., up 1.3¢.
USDA Extra Grade nonfat dry milk averaged $2.07/lb., down 1.3¢ from the previous week.


Weekly ethanol production, corn use

Ethanol production data for the week ending March 28:

Ethanol production: 38.7 million gallons/day, the highest weekly average of the year.

Corn used: 13.98 million bushels/day

DIstillers grains production: 91,734 metric tons/day

Source: Renewable Fuels Association


Dairy economists, policy analysts to meet

The 21st Annual National Workshop for Dairy Economists and Policy Analysts will be held May 1-2 in Milwaukee, Wis. Registration deadline is April 18.

The registration fee for the program is $380. The hotel for the workshop is the Hilton Milwaukee, Downtown, 509 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI.

An optional bus tour of two Wisconsin dairy farms and two dairy plants will be held April 30.

For more information, visit


Canada's Dairytown, Agropur consider merger

Canada's Dairytown Products Ltd. and Agropur Cooperative have concluded an agreement in principle to merge the two organizations.

Dairytown Products Ltd. is located at the heart of New Brunswick's dairy farming community, with access to markets in central Canada and northeast United States. It is a supplier of butter, skim milk powder and custom milk powder blends.

With sales of more than $3.8 billion, Agropur cooperative is owned by 3,348 dairy farmers, processing more than 3.3 billion litres of milk per year in its 31 plants across North America.

A final agreement is expected within the next few weeks, and requires Dairytown’s 207 New Brunswick dairy farmers to vote on the proposed merger. The transaction is subject to final approval after conducting a due diligence review and obtaining the usual authorizations, including those of Canada's Competition Bureau and other authorities. 

Source: Agropur


Pizzerias urged not to raise prices, use cheaper cheeses

Higher cheese prices could raise restaurants’ food costs, but industry experts say now is not the time to raise menu prices or switch ingredients to compensate for the increase.

Food commodities analyst John Barone said restaurants which didn't lock in supply contracts last fall face the biggest challenge, especially until milk supplies grow and cheese prices come down.

Restaurant industry consultant Dennis Lombardi said the situation likely would be tougher on smaller chains and independents – who don't have volume buying power – rather than the larger chains.

Anthony Rosati, a principal owner of the Chicago-based Rosati’s Pizza in Chicago, and a member of the National Restaurant Association’s Pizzeria Council, said that while the rising price of cheese is a concern, pizza operators “are very accustomed to a fluctuating cheese market and our rule of thumb is not to panic or overreact. We know from years of experience that as quickly as the prices rise, they can just as quickly fall.”

Rosati advised his fellow pizza operators not to raise menu prices to compensate for the increased food cost or try and switch to a less expensive product in the interim.

Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s senior vice president of research, said consumers are still cautious on spending, which could make it challenging for restaurateurs to raise menu prices.

According to the NRA’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast, consumers remain stuck in a recession mindset when it comes to their personal finances even though the level of pent-up demand for restaurant services is high.

Source: National Restaurant Association