March cheese prices went out like a lion, with a big move to the upside, despite a fair amount of product finding its way to Chicago but driven in part by demand for fresh cheese and anticipated increasing exports. By Lee Mielke.
The cheddar blocks marched to $1.52 per pound the last Friday of the month, 8 cents higher on the week, 5 cents above a year ago, and 3 cents above where it was March 1.
The barrels finished at $1.47, up 8 cents on the week, 1 1/2-cents above a year ago, and a half-cent above its March 1 price. Nineteen cars of block traded hands on the week and 38 of barrel.
The blocks gained a penny Monday but gave it back Tuesday as traders likely didn’t like what they saw in the GDT. The barrels were up 2 1/2-cents Monday but gave back 1 1/2-cents Tuesday, slipping to $1.48.
Milk continues to be available to Midwest and Western cheesemakers, according to Dairy Market News. Reports from some in the Midwest point to an inability to take on any extra milk. Spot milk prices have been reported from $1 to $4 under class.
Spot butter saw a Friday finish at $2.1075 per pound, up a penny on the week, 14 3/4-cents above a year ago, but down 12 1/2-cents from its March 1 perch.
Monday saw the butter tick up 2 cents then tack on 2 1/4-cents Tuesday, hitting $2.15.
Butter output is active in the Central region, according to DMN. Cream is still available to butter producers. Some report they are in the peak of spring holiday demand while others still expect stronger demand to come.
Western butter makers also have plenty of cream and are actively churning it.
Cash Grade A nonfat dry milk closed Friday at 80 cents per pound, down 2 cents on the week but 8 1/2-cents above a year ago.
The powder was unchanged Monday and Tuesday.
Tuesday’s Global Dairy Trade auction’s weighted average inched up 1.6 percent, following the 1.7 percent gain on March 21, after plunging 6.3 percent March 7 and 3.2 percent on Feb. 21. It also surpassed the U.S. $20 billion milestone in cumulative value of products sold.
Buttermilk powder led the declines, down 12.2 percent. Cheddar cheese fell 4.4 percent, after a 1 percent slip last time, and butter was down 1.6 percent, following a 4.9 percent increase. Skim milk powder was down 0.8 percent, after leading the losses last time with a 10.1 percent plunge.
The gains were led by rennet casein, up 6.9 percent. Anhydrous milkfat was up 2.5 percent, following a 3.0 percent increase. Whole milk powder was up 2.4 percent, after increasing 2.9 percent, and lactose was up 2.2 percent.
FC Stone equated the average 80 percent butterfat GDT butter price to $2.1585 per pound U.S. CME butter closed Tuesday at $2.15 per pound. GDT cheddar cheese equated to $1.4912 per pound U.S. and compares to Tuesday’s CME block Cheddar at $1.52.
GDT skim milk powder was at 86.78 cents per pound and whole milk powder averaged $1.3265 per pound U.S. CME Grade A nonfat dry milk closed Tuesday at 80 cents per pound.
Benchmark drops $2.05
California’s March 4b cheese milk price is $13.76 per cwt., down $2.05 from February, 52 cents above a year ago, and the lowest 4b price since June 2016.
The three-month 4b average stands at $15.19, up from $13.12 a year ago and $13.83 in 2015.
The 4a butter-powder price is $13.96 per cwt., down $1.44 from February but $1.55 above a year ago and the lowest 4a price since November 2016.
Its First Quarter average stands at $15.01, up from $12.98 a year ago and $13.32 in 2015.
Milk-feed ratio slips
Higher corn, soybean and alfalfa hay prices and a lower All-Milk price served to pull the latest milk feed price ratio lower for the second month in a row. The February ratio, at 2.61, is down from 2.69 in January, but is up from 2.18 in February 2016, according to the latest Ag Prices report.
The February U.S. average All-Milk price was $18.50 per hundredweight (cwt.), down 40 cents from January but is $2.80 above February 2016.
Florida scored the highest, at $22.80 per cwt. New Mexico had the lowest, at $17.10, down 80 cents from January but $2.50 above a year ago. Arizona was second lowest, with $17.20. California wasn’t much above that, at $17.44, down a dime from January but $3.12 above a year ago, and $1.56 below Wisconsin. The Badger State’s All Milk average was $19.00 per cwt., down 30 cents from January but $2.90 above a year ago.
February corn averaged $3.44 per bushel in the U.S., up 4 cents from January, following a 7 cent increase in January from December but is 14 cents per bushel below February 2016. Soybeans averaged $9.86 per bushel, up 15 cents from January, following a 7 cent increase in January, and is $1.35 per bushel above February 2016. Alfalfa hay averaged $129 per ton, up $1 from January but $8 per ton below a year ago.
Looking at the cow side of the ledger, the report shows the February cull price for beef and dairy cows combined averaged $64.90 per cwt., up 90 cents from January but $12.60 per cwt. below February 2016, and $6.70 below the 2011 base average of $71.60 per cwt.
Source: Capital Press