March fluid sales continue downward trend

March 2014 packaged fluid milk sales totaled 4.30 billion lbs., down 2.0% from the year before, according to USDA’s Dairy Market News.

March sales of conventional products, at 4.09 billion lbs., were down 2.7% compared to March 2013; organic products, at 212 million lbs., were up 14.3%. Organic represented about 4.9% of total sales for the month.

For the year-to-date, packaged fluid milk sales totaled 12.89 billion lbs., down 1.5% from January-March 2013. Sales of conventional products, at 12.27 billion lbs., were down 2.2%; organic products, at 623 million lbs., were up 15.6%. Organic represented about 4.8% of total sales.


Cheese, butter end week steady

Daily CME Cash Trading on Friday, May 16, 2014











Cheddar barrels



Cheddar blocks



NFDM Grade A



Butter Grade AA




Cattle on feed down 1%

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in U.S. feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.6 million head on May 1, 1% less than a year earlier. April placements totaled 1.64 million head (1.55 million net), down 5% from a year earlier. April fed cattle marketings totaled 1.78 million, down 2%.

Source: USDA Cattle on Feed report, May 16, 2014


Dairy CPI: Mostly higher in April

Retail prices for fluid milk, cheese and ice cream rose in April, while prices for butter and “other” products were steady to lower compared to a month earlier, according to unadjusted monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fluid milk, cheese and butter prices took the biggest jump compared to a year ago.

Overall April 2014 retail dairy product prices were +0.5% compared to March 2014, and +2.8% compared to April 2013. That compares to retail prices for all food eaten at home, which was +0.5% compared to March and +1.7% compared to the year before.

Checking out individual products (April 2014 vs. March 2014 and April 2013, respectively): fluid milk: +0.3%; +5.6% [whole milk: +0.2%; +6.1%; other milk: +0.1%; +4.8%]; cheese: +1.5%; +4.4%; butter: unchanged; +7.1%; ice cream: 0.4%; -0.5%; and “other” dairy products: -0.5%; -1.5%.


USDA firm on ‘school foods’ interim rule

USDA will stick to the implementation date on an interim final rule for nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) had requested a delay to support members who might need to reformulate dairy products for the new standards.

Saying USDA had complied with the timing required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, U.S. ag secretary Tom Vilsack implied the implementation date will remain the same, but assured IDFA the initial period will be used to gather more feedback and assess the need for clarifications or refinements before final rulemaking.

The interim final rule is set to go into effect July 1, 2014, meaning that competitive foods in schools would need to comply with the nutrition standards starting in the 2014-2015 school year. Competitive foods are foods and beverages sold in schools, but not as part of the school meal programs, including a la carte items, vending machine items and products sold in school stores.

Source: IDFA


Keeping a dairy eye on sugar

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) announced a preliminary determination of injury in the antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) investigation of Mexican sugar imports. The ruling came in response to a petition, filed in March by a group of U.S. sugar producers, who claimed the government of Mexico is subsidizing and dumping sugar in the United States. The vote now allows the case to proceed to the next phase of the investigation. 

Ice cream and other dairy product manufacturers use approximately 11% of industrial sugar deliveries. If the AD/CVD petitions is successful, dairy product manufacturers could face significantly higher costs for sugar, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).

In a separate release, IDFA called attention to USDA’s May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, which reflected a decrease in projected U.S. sugar supply for fiscal year 2014/15. USDA projected that the supply will be down 5.6% from 2013/14.