Amid a rollercoaster of price moves, mostly downward, in the past two weeks, Cheddar cheese blocks have moved into the spotlight in spot market trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
On Friday, Nov. 9, the Cheddar block price fell by seven cents per pound as eight carloads were sold on the CME. On the same day, 13 carloads of Cheddar barrels were sold as the price dipped by 7.5 cents per pound.
Another 16 carloads of blocks were sold on Monday and Tuesday of this week as the price continued to slip.
Then, on Wednesday of this week, an unfilled bid to buy one carload raised the price by 5.25 cents to put the day's closing price at $1.91 per pound - down eight cents from a week earlier.
In the meantime, the Cheddar barrel spot market turned quiet this week. There was no activity on Wednesday as the price stood at $1.8275 per pound - down by 8.25 cents from Wednesday of last week.
The AA butter spot market also has been quiet for one week with the price standing at $1.89 per pound.
On Wednesday of this week, an uncovered offer to sell one carload of Grade A non-fat dry milk left the price at $1.5750 per pound while Grade Extra remained at $1.56.
In reaction to the Cheddar block price, there were gains in the Class III milk futures for nearby months on Wednesday.
The November price of $20.88 was the highest on the board but a 32-cent pickup for December pulled the price back to $19.70 while the January 2013 price rose to $18.96 following a 21-cent increase during the day.
For all other months in 2013, the Class III futures were still in the $18s per hundred on Wednesday. In 2014, however, the futures prices available on the trading board range from the $17s per hundred early in the year down to $13.95 for October.
A similar price structure is in place for the futures prices on dry whey. Following the 63 and 62-cent per pound prices for this November and December, the price falls into the 50s for all months of 2013 and then down to 42 cents for January of 2014.
The producer price differential (PPD) for milk pooled in Federal Milk Marketing Order 30 for October is a multi-year low of a negative 49 cents per hundred in the Chicago base zone and up to 69 cents per hundred for the most geographically distance milk receiving plants within the Order.
The most recent PPD rivaling that number was the minus 46 cents per hundred in June of 2008.
With the negative PPD, the amount of milk pooled in Order 30 for October dropped to 2.027 billion pounds. A negative PPD is a disincentive to pool because the milk buyers in the pool would have to make a payment to cover the deficit.
As a result of the depooling, the numbers also changed significantly for the usage of the pooled milk. Class III usage fell to 69.9 percent for October while Class I fluid milk jumped to 16.7 percent.
Class II had 9 percent of the usage while Class IV came in at 4.4 percent.
For the pooled milk, the average butterfat content was a recent high of 3.89 percent. Protein was at 3.17 percent and other milk solids at 5.73 percent.
Cooperatives Working Together has announced the acceptance of a package of 12 bids from Dairy Farmers of America, Darigold Cooperative of Seattle, Land O'Lakes, and United Dairymen of Arizona.
These bids were for financial assistance on the export of 2.09 million pounds of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 5.463 million pounds of butter to countries in Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Those deliveries are scheduled from November through May of 2013.