Prices, volumes rise in dairy spot market

Ray Mueller
In a multiyear effort to reintroduce America to dairy, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy - in partnership with America's Dairy Farm Families and Importers - is launching "Undeniably DairyT," the first category campaign of its kind.

CHICAGO, IL. – Both the prices for dairy commodities and the trading volumes rose during the past week in the spot market at the CME Group.

Thanks to a bid for one carload that resulted in a sale as the day's last transaction, the most attention-getting gain was an 11 cent per pound pickup last week Friday for Cheddar cheese blocks. Cheddar barrels gained 3 cents per pound on the same day as 14 carloads were sold.

Relatively high sales continued into this week. By the end of the market session on Wednesday morning, 10 carloads of barrels, 12 of AA butter, and 8 of Grade A non-fat dry milk were sold on the first three days of the week. Two carloads each of Cheddar blocks, AA butter, and Grade non-fat dry milk were sold on Wednesday.

Mid-week market

Including a 1 cent gain on Wednesday, Cheddar blocks closed at $1.60 per pound. The day's session had an unfilled bid for one carload and an uncovered offer to sell one carload. With the price holding at $1.46 per pound, the day's only activity for Cheddar barrels was an unfilled bid for one carload and an uncovered offer to sell one carload.

During a market day including an unfilled bid for three carloads and an uncovered offer of two carloads, the AA butter price moved up by 2.5 cents to close at $2.13 per pound. The Grade A non-fat dry milk price held at 85.75 cents per pound on Wednesday as a bid for three carloads was not filled and an offer to sell 15 carloads was not covered.

Milk futures prices

Class III milk futures were in green ink territory for all remaining months of 2017 in trading through early afternoon on Wednesday. This left May with the lowest price of $15.57 per hundred for any month in the upcoming two years. All other prices were in the $16s per hundred except for the $17.07 for September of 2017.

The Class III milk national base price for April that was announced late last week is $15.22 per hundred for milk at 3.5 percent butterfat. This is down by 59 cents from March but $1.59 per hundred above the price for April of 2016.

Prices for other classes of milk for April were $14.81 per hundred for Class II and $14.01 for Class IV. Those are up by $1.27 and $1.33 per hundred respectively from April of 2016.

In the dry whey futures market, for which contracts were completed for all months of 2017 on Wednesday, the highest price was 51 cents per pound for May. Prices then declined to 35.025 cents for June of 2018 before rising again.

Dairy consumption trends

A report by the National Milk Producers Federation indicated that the decline of .3 percent in fluid milk sales for the period from November 2016 through January 2017 was the lowest for any similar period for the past year. Within the fluid milk categories, whole milk sales were up by 5.5 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.

For the three month period covered in the report, the overall dairy product sales were up by 2.2 percent on a milkfat basis. That occurred thanks to increases of 3.1 percent for American type cheeses and 2.5 percent for other cheeses from those three months a year earlier.

Cooperatives Working Together has announced the receipt of a total of seven bids from Foremost Farms USA, the United Dairymen of Arizona, and the Northwest Dairy Association (Dairygold) of Washington for financial assistance on the export of 1 million pounds of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 440,535 pounds of butter. The products are going to buyers in Asia and the Middle East on deliveries from May to August.