Top Stories

U.S. cheesemakers seek new strategies to reach consumers

September 18, 2020

By Rena Archwamety

MADISON, Wis. — Sampling, whether at trade shows, supermarkets, farmer’s markets or festivals, is a key component of marketing cheese. But with current safety restrictions and the cancellation of large events, these traditional opportunities to put cheese into potential buyers’ mouths have all but dissolved.

“Unfortunately the COVID-19 crisis has really limited our access to customers,” says Michelle Stuyt, sales and marketing executive, Stuyt Dairy Farmstead Cheese Co. LLC, Escalon, California. “We rely heavily on face-to-face interactions not only with our customers, but with deli managers and cheesemongers.”

Without the opportunity to be in stores doing demos, Stuyt Dairy relies on deli managers and cheesemongers to help sell its local California cheese, Stuyt says.

“Providing guests with in-store demos to taste the product and hear our story through our eyes we feel is really important. Not only does it give the guest the opportunity to sample our products, but it gives an opportunity to ask questions about ingredients, our staff, goals, etc.,” she says.

“With that being said, sampling sells — the biggest impact has been the absence of sampling in stores and farmer’s markets.”
While sampling may not be an option, many outdoor farmer’s markets still are open, and Stuyt Dairy is taking advantage of these to make its cheeses more visible and accessible.

“This year we have taken on so many new farmer’s markets just to try and reach new customers,” Stuyt says. “For farmer’s markets specifically, we have cut our cheese wedges a little differently to make purchases more affordable and appealing. Furthermore, we have the ability to offer discounts as well as promotions that customers would not otherwise get in the grocery store. Our goal is to generate more incentive in hopes that they will return.”

The producer-funded Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW), which works to promote Wisconsin cheese and dairy products, has pivoted from traditional in-store demos to increase its emphasis on supporting more of its digital and virtual tactics for marketing cheese.

“We have an entire playbook of content and assets to promote digitally on retailer e-commerce sites, websites and social channels including recipe videos or Proudly Wisconsin Cheese landing pages,” says Rich Mende, vice president of retail programs, DFW. “We have a new Taste of Wisconsin Cheese virtual event kit to help retailers host their own online sampling event. We have introduced Proudly Wisconsin Virtual Buyers Meetings to effectively connect retailers to Wisconsin cheesemakers and plan for new items and promotions that have been extremely successful.”

Mende notes that DFW does have retail partners who are experimenting with sampling and planning sampling for the holiday season using new, safer methods like individually wrapped or cupped samples and having the demo person stand behind a Plexiglas shield. This year DFW also has added new in-store and online materials for promoting cheeses made by Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers, where shoppers can learn more about these master craftsmen and craftswomen behind award-winning cheeses in their local store.

“DFW helps support sampling multiple Wisconsin cheese brands with our branded materials and will work with retailers planning safe sampling and demo events,” Mende says.

Rumiano Cheese Co., Willows, California, has found beyond the initial supply and demand shock that came from the COVID crisis, the long-term challenge has been the loss of face-to-face contact with retailers and consumers through food shows, meetings and demos. With these challenges, the business has had to think outside of the box when working with customers, says Jillian Casacca, sales associate, Rumiano Cheese.

“Although we can’t be there to talk them through a tasting, we can still provide them an experience, and right to their front door. We have relied on shipping sample kits to various customers. There are a number of ways we’ve been able to get creative and personalize the cheeses, pairings and materials in the sample kits.”

Rumiano Cheese also has participated in various virtual trade shows, which have brought an interesting tactic and perspective to the table, Casacca says, adding that there are pros and cons to this format.

“Certainly it makes it more challenging. With food, especially cheese, you are selling an experience — the taste, texture, flavor and quality of the product,” she says. “Some of the formats place you at the mercy of interested buyers. An upside to one of the formats in particular is getting one-on-one time with small groups of sales teams. This allows you to leave an impression with each of their sales team members, not just those that pass your booth. You also have their undivided attention and can share more of your heritage and brand attributes.”

DFW notes that many of the trade shows it had planned to participate in have been canceled, though it is preparing for more virtual show formats this next year.

“As the 2021 show season kicks off, we’re expecting some great opportunities with major shows going virtual, and we’re preparing to make the new platform work hard for our cheesemakers and retail customers,” says Chris Kuske Riese, vice president of channel marketing, DFW. “In the meantime, our Proudly Wisconsin Virtual Buyer Meetings have been extremely successful introducing retailers to Wisconsin cheesemakers and planning for new items and promotions.”

Schuman Cheese, Fairfield, New Jersey, will participate in the upcoming Specialty Food Association Live! virtual event Sept. 21-24, where members will display their products in virtual showcases and stand ready to meet with potential buyers. It will unveil new specialty products, including Cello Pumpkin Spice Rubbed Fontal and Cello Snack Packs, and showcase other products and brands.

“It’s kind of uncharted territory. At the Fancy Food Shows, thousands of people were going into convention halls with hundreds of vendors and samples everywhere,” says Mike Currie, director of marketing, Schuman Cheese. “At a live event, everyone is coming by, grabbing cheeses, and you want to talk and get feedback. In the virtual setting, you’re more likely to talk to people who are category buyers, a big reason we do trade shows. There are probably fewer leads, but higher-quality leads.”

Schuman Cheese also is working on more online marketing and promotions, including an upcoming chat box through Facebook Messenger that will connect consumers with a virtual cheesemonger to suggest specialty cheeses and pairings, and mini sweepstakes on social media where the company will send free cheese to fans who engage.

In addition to virtual shows and promotions, businesses are finding creative ways to invite consumers to try their products while having fun. The Vermont Cheese Council, which represents 55 cheesemaker members, this week launched “The Hunt,” a scavenger hunt across the state. Clue packets for various regions of the state are available at, and the clues lead players to local cheeses as well as historic sites, farms and outdoor trail systems. The council also has teamed up with area wineries, breweries and orchards that are featured in The Hunt. Winners will be placed in a drawing to receive prize baskets with artisan cheeses, lodging certificates, state park memberships and other items.

“Many cheesemakers are not sampling cheese now, and in parallel, the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival, a very big festival that was scheduled in August, was canceled,” says Marty Mundy, executive director, Vermont Cheese Council. “We had a lot of discussions with membership on what can we do to help promote cheese? Is there an alternative to the festival?”

The result of this brainstorming was the scavenger hunt, which the council hoped would appeal to both out-of-state visitors and Vermont residents, similar to the festival. Mundy says she has seen a good response so far from promotions on social media and to the council’s mailing list.

“In our area, people are really bored, and this gives them something to do,” she says. “The Hunt really fit an opportunity that happened to exist, something where we could figure out how to create an experience that fits what our consumer base needs and wants.”

Along with the need to get outdoors and explore, consumers also have been staying at home more, which creates opportunities for them to discover new cheeses through virtual events or on social media to use in recipes.

“Since our customers can’t come to us or sample us, we’ve been trying to get to the customer,” says Vanessa Chang, marketing director at Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Station, California. “We’ve done a lot of virtual events — partnering with friends in wine, trade groups and other categories to enliven people’s day to day. We’re also refocusing efforts on our social and digital content, sharing more of what we’re up to so everyone can stay connected.”

Rumiano Cheese also has placed a larger emphasis on its social media platform, Casacca says.

“We have been collaborating on how to create more at-home experiences with our cheese, and with the majority of meals now being cooked at home, showing consumers how to use our cheese to make any meal or snack just a bit more fun,” she says. “Also, how Rumiano can make the current juggling act for parents a little easier — from snacks to new learning opportunities.”

While many would like life to get back to “normal,” Casacca adds that there are opportunities to get creative and find a silver lining in any situation.

“COVID has tested us all, but I have really enjoyed the positives it has brought, too — becoming a larger part of people’s homes and lives, teaching consumers how to get creative with our products and having more ways to give back.”


Dairy companies continue to grow, expand despite pandemic

September 18, 2020

Editor’s note: Plants in Progress is a special segment spotlighting new facilities and expansion in the U.S. dairy sector. As the industry works to meet new demand, growth and expansion are inevitable. Here, we provide a glimpse into new cheese and dairy plants and expansions across the country — from initial groundbreaking to full operation, and everything in between.

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — It’s been a challenging year, and the dairy industry has faced some uphill battles with unprecedented market volatility and supply and demand challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic. However, consumers still are hungry for dairy protein to meet their needs at nearly every meal, and especially snacking occasions.

In the face of market challenges, cheese and dairy companies continue to grow and expand. From new cheese varieties to increased demand for dairy ingredients, the hunger for dairy proteins means companies are able to continue to invest and expand to feed a hungry nation and world. One plant in Wisconsin is reconstructing after a fire earlier this year, another on the West Coast is building a brand new facility for dairy ingredients, while one in New York is ramping up new aseptic packaging capabilities for extended-shelf-life products.

That’s only a sampling of the various investments and building projects featured in our special section as we provide a snapshot of dairy industry growth from coast to coast.

Please read on for more in this latest installment of Plants in Progress ...

• BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Glenville, New York

BelGioioso Cheese earlier this year completed construction on a $25 million cheese plant in the Glenville Business and Technology Park in Glenville, New York.

BelGioioso Cheese has operated in the Schenectady County area since purchasing the Cappiello local dairy plant in 2011. Now, the Wisconsin-based company is expanding its New York production with the new 100,000-square-foot cheese manufacturing plant in Glenville.

This summer, BelGioioso produced its first vat of cheese at the plant. Going forward, the Glenville site will produce a variety of products from BelGioioso’s national and international award-winning portfolio of more than 30 cheese varieties. The company also plans to add nearly 50 new jobs as it increases production capacity.

• Burnett Dairy Cooperative, Grantsburg, Wisconsin

Burnett Dairy Cooperative is rebuilding a section of its plant in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, after a fire earlier this year damaged its historic Wood River Creamery building.

Stephanie Miller, marketing manager, Burnett Dairy, says the co-op welcomed the first milk hauler back this week.

“All systems have been tested with water, but today (Sept. 15) will be the first test with milk,” Miller says. “Depending on the problems we encounter, we hope to continue to increase production throughout the next few weeks until we are back to full production volume.”

Miller notes that while Burnett’s loaf and shred lines will be operational, the String packaging lines will not be ready for another three to four weeks. All of the work to date has concentrated on getting the co-op back up and producing for its customers, she says.

“In terms of the long-term goals of the plant, we will be making improvements with a timeline of 18 to 24 months,” Miller adds, noting specifics on changes to the plant are not yet available.

• Byrne Dairy, East Syracuse, New York

Byrne Dairy is expanding its plant in East Syracuse, New York, by 22,000 square feet to add two aseptic filling lines, making it the first dairy in central New York to package milk in aseptic packaging, says Carl Byrne, president, Byrne Dairy.

The $20 million expansion will allow for packages from 8 to 32 ounces that are shelf stable and will last up to a year without refrigeration, Byrne says, noting adding aseptic processing is the next logical step for the company as consumers increasingly want products with a longer shelf life. The product also can be shipped overseas.

As part of the project, Byrne Dairy is adding four 10,000-gallon sterile tanks, a new valve group and ultra-high-temperature milk sterilizers.

The project is slated for completion in early 2021, with the first filler to come online by the spring. The project will create 64 new full-time positions at Byrne Dairy.

• Dairy Farmers of America, Zumbrota, Minnesota, and St. Albans, Vermont

Construction on an expansion to Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) plant in Zumbrota, Minnesota, commenced in July. With the 86,000-square-foot expansion, the plant will produce an additional 7.5 million pounds of cheese and dairy powders per year, the co-op says.

Crews have been working on the site excavation plan in preparation for pouring the footings. Updates will include a cheese spray dryer and tower, employee wellness area and a wastewater treatment plant. The expansion is slated for completion by the end of 2021.

In addition, DFA this summer kicked off a $30 million investment to improve the milk processing and storage capacity of its St. Albans, Vermont, plant.

The co-op says the expansion is well underway. Three new receiving bays are being constructed, and new silos are being installed. The walls are going up on the new building, which will house the bays. Contractors also are completing the concrete and masonry work so the rest of the building construction and process installation can continue. At this time, the project is still on track for completion later this fall, DFA says.

• Darigold Inc., Seattle

Darigold, the marketing and processing subsidiary of the Northwest Dairy Association (NDA) cooperative, recently announced plans to build a new large-scale global ingredients plant. The selection of a location for the plant is ongoing and will be announced in 2021 along with more specifics about the intended final products for commercialization.

Darigold also is streamlining its international distribution capabilities to complement production investments. The company has signed a lease for more than 284,000 square feet of warehouse space near the Port of Seattle. Darigold notes the new plant and warehouse not only will have positive customer impacts, but there will be substantial improvements to the environmental footprint of enterprise-wide operations — a major step in achieving the company’s previously announced goal to become carbon-neutral by 2050.

•Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, Wisconsin

Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery recently announced it is building a new 60,000-square-foot plant in Menomonie, Wisconsin, which will include a retail store. The company also has locations in Ellsworth and Comstock, Wisconsin.

The Menomonie project will focus on manufacturing specialty cheese, and the retail store will feature cheese as well as a grill, deep fryer and pizza oven. It will create 42 new positions.

Completion of the project currently is slated for fall 2021.

• Fairlife LLC, Goodyear, Arizona

Ultrafiltered milk brand Fairlife LLC, owned by the Coca-Cola Co., is building a new 300,000-square-foot facility in Goodyear, Arizona.

Fairlife currently produces multiple varieties of dairy-based beverages at its production plant in Coopersville, Michigan, for distribution in the United States and Canada.

According to Neil Betteridge, senior vice president of global manufacturing technologies at Fairlife, Arizona was chosen for the project so that the facility would be in an area where dairy farms are willing and able to follow Fairlife’s requirements on responsible animal care and sustainable farming practices while producing the highest-quality milk.

The new facility will create more than 100 jobs, and the plant will produce several Fairlife products, including different varieties of Fairlife ultrafiltered milk. The project, which has faced some delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has a targeted opening date of spring 2021.

• Great Lakes Cheese, Hiram, Ohio

Great Lakes Cheese in 2019 commenced construction on an expansion to its cheese plant in Hiram, Ohio, where the company also is building a new corporate headquarters facility.

The company plans to hire an additional 400 employees over the coming years as a result of these projects.

Great Lakes Cheese will begin operations in the 300,000-square-foot expansion of its packaging plant in Hiram, Ohio, in early November 2020. The new 55,000-square-foot corporate headquarters adjacent to the newly-expanded plant is on track to open in the first quarter of 2021.

• Holmen Cheese LLC, Holmen, Wisconsin

Holmen Cheese LLC is in the final stages of commissioning its $30 million newly custom-built, state-of the-art 100,000-square-foot facility that will produce dairy and plant-based cheese alternatives, cheese blends and processed cheeses for industrial, foodservice and retail markets.

Jeff Fowler, CEO, Holmen Cheese, says the company will be bringing on a new executive team. Hiring began earlier this year, with about 40 employees hired so far; once the plant is fully up and running, it will probably have around 55-60 employees, Fowler says, adding if the plant goes to multiple shifts, it could be closer to 70-80. The plant is slated to begin production in the next month.

Fowler says within its first year, Holmen Cheese aims to produce about 30 million pounds of cheese and dairy products.

“We do not source any milk,” he adds, “so everything we make is either finished cheeses and blends in with existing cheese, or is oil- or plant-based cheese.”

• Kraft Heinz Co., Springfield, Missouri

Kraft Heinz is investing in its Springfield, Missouri, manufacturing facility as part of a 5-year, $48 million project to enhance its manufacturing operations and capacity. Kraft Heinz currently employs 950 people in the Springfield region, and this is the third major capital investment in the facility over the last several years.

Since 1954, Kraft Heinz has operated from the Springfield manufacturing facility, which produces some of the company’s most recognizable products, including Kraft American Singles, Kraft Natural Cheese and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Its natural cheese division is set to be purchased by the U.S. division of Lactalis Group, though Kraft Heinz will retain its Springfield facility and processed cheese brands (see related article in Top Stories).

• Lactalis American Group, Nampa, Idaho

Lactalis American Group, which operates a cheese factory in Nampa, Idaho, recently announced plans to begin a $1.7 million capital project, increasing factory capacity and adding new jobs.

The capital project includes a plan to create 75 new jobs and increase production capacity at the company’s fresh Mozzarella facility. The expansion includes creating more than $20 million in new wages and $8.2 million in new total state revenue for Idaho, according to the company.

The facility’s fresh Mozzarella plant was completed in 2013. Lactalis American Group says it was one of several investments made to its Nampa facility over the last decade.

Lactalis American Group is a family-owned company headquartered in Buffalo, New York. The company has manufacturing facilities located in Idaho, Wisconsin and New York. The company produces French and Italian cheeses, including the brands Galbani and Président, and recently agreed to acquire Kraft Heinz’s natural cheese business.

• MWC, St. Johns, Michigan — Joint venture between Glanbia Nutritionals, Dairy Farmers of America, Select Milk Producers

MWC, a joint venture cheese plant between Glanbia Nutritionals, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Select Milk Producers Inc. in the City of St. Johns, Michigan, is on track to open in early 2021, officials say.

The large-scale cheese and whey production facility — 50% of which is owned by Glanbia with the other half jointly owned by Select Milk and DFA — cost $470 million.

Hiring against the remaining 240 positions commenced earlier this year, with the expectation to be fully staffed in line with the commissioning timeline, officials say.

The new plant will be among the largest cheese manufacturing plants in the United States and the largest cheese facility in Michigan, with the additional localized processing expected to stabilize and strengthen Michigan’s dairy industry, joint venture partners say.

When fully operational, MWC will process more than 2.9 billion pounds of milk and will produce in excess of 300 million pounds of block cheese and 20 million pounds of value-added whey protein powders each year.

• Ornua, Hilbert, Wisconsin

Ornua, Ireland’s largest premium dairy cooperative, recently announced a major expansion of its Ornua Ingredients North America division with a $10 million investment to upgrade its Hilbert, Wisconsin, cheese ingredients operation.

Ornua says the facility already has some of the most advanced dairy processing equipment in the U.S. dairy sector and includes a state-of-the-art innovation center that provides functional cheese solutions to Ornua’s U.S. food ingredient and foodservice customers.

The expansion plans for Hilbert will add 22,000 square feet of warehousing and cooling infrastructure to the operation, resulting in an additional 30% growth in production capacity. Construction of the site’s new infrastructure is being carried out by Wisconsin building firm Bayland Construction and is expected to be complete in February 2021.

Ornua Ingredients North America, which specializes in producing customized, functional cheese products for major U.S. food manufacturing and foodservice customers, operates two cheesemaking facilities: the Hilbert plant and another in Byron, Minnesota.

• Specialty Cheese Co., Reeseville, Wisconsin

Specialty Cheese Co. recently broke ground on a plant expansion project to increase capacity for production of its fresh cheeses and snack line, Just the Cheese, at its facility in Reeseville, Wisconsin.

President Paul Scharfman says the company has outgrown its existing space and is adding 10,000 square feet to the facility, including new vats, packaging lines, pasteurizers and more.

“You don’t build a little bit — if you’re going to build, you build a lot. So it will double the capacity we have today. We’re blessed with growing markets, and what this expansion does is allow us not to say ‘no’ when our customers want more cheese,” Scharfman says.

He notes new positions will be added as needed, but if the project progresses as planned, the company expects to add about 100 jobs.

• Superior Dairy Inc., Canton, Ohio

Superior Dairy Inc., a fourth-generation family business in Canton, Ohio, is investing roughly $25 million dollars into the expansion of its plant as well as new equipment. The investment into the facility began in 2018 and is targeted for completion this year.

Greg Soehnlen, CEO, Superior Dairy, says the project’s target was to create 123 jobs, and it already has exceeded this goal, currently employing more than 400, both full and part time.

“This is an amazing achievement for our company to experience continued growth over the years. We are proud to be a fourth-generation family-owned business that is able to support Ohio’s economy for 98 years,” Soehnlen says. “With this new expansion, we look forward to welcoming new employees in the area and having (them) grow with us. Our business model has always been putting the community first.”

When the project began, the company had three goals: to increase its ability to receive raw milk, to enlarge the employee locker room and to grow its infrastructure to support its processing and filling lines.

Superior Dairy’s entire operation has been housed in the Canton, Ohio, plant since 1922. Within the plant, the company produces fluid milk products, cottage cheese, sour cream, flavored milk, ice cream and chip dip. Its two sister companies, LEL and Creative Edge, also are on the premises. LEL is responsible for Superior Dairy’s product distribution, while Creative Edge operates as its strategic “think tank,” according to Soehnlen.

• Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville, Georgia

If there’s one thing Sweet Grass Dairy has learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s to expect the unexpected. The company is nearing the finish line on a new production facility in Thomasville, Georgia, but has experienced some delays.

Sweet Grass Dairy also recently rebranded with a new logo, new packaging and a new color palette. When comparing the new and old logo, Sweet Grass Dairy wanted to “set the cow free” and let her roam as the company’s cows do in South Georgia, officials say.

The company’s new 12,000-square-foot space will feature a state-of-the-art production facility with customized environmental controls to maintain the correct temperature, humidity and airflow in the cheese aging rooms, a packaging area for the company’s mail order program, and an office area with meeting rooms. The new building also will include a break room for employees to recharge during and after their shifts.

Sweet Grass Dairy has been making handcrafted cheeses since 2000 in its existing 5,000-square-foot facility. While the Southeast represents the company’s largest market share, the cheeses are distributed nationally and have found success in both foodservice and retailers across the nation, says co-owner Jessica Little.

With six core cheeses in its line up, Sweet Grass Dairy is hoping this new facility will provide an opportunity to improve cheese consistency and quality, Little adds.

Mallory Sofferin, marketing coordinator, Sweet Grass Dairy, notes the company is hoping to move its administrative offices to the new facility in mid-October and will continue to make cheese from its current facility while testing the new one.

“With aged cheeses, it will take at least two months to know how consistent these cheeses are that are made in the new facility,” Sofferin says. “We’re really looking forward to this next stage of growth and all of the opportunities this new facility will bring us.”

• University of Wisconsin-Madison Babcock Hall Dairy Plant and Center for Dairy Research, Madison, Wisconsin

The State of Wisconsin Building Commission (SBC) earlier this year approved a $25.7 million increase in the project budget for the University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research (CDR) and the Babcock Hall Dairy Plant addition.

The project will construct a three-story addition and remodel portions of Babcock Hall to house CDR. It will demolish 2,770 square feet of space within Babcock Hall, demolish the 3,200-square-foot Science House, construct an approximately 48,569-square-foot addition to the west of the existing building and renovate about 28,905 square feet in the existing building.

The renovation and addition will provide a state-of-the-art production, teaching, and research facility for both CDR and the food science department’s dairy plant.

Construction is commencing well, notes Crystal Potts, director of state relations at UW-Madison.

“Since there is highly specialized design-build-to-suit sanitary processing equipment for CDR included in this project, there are some expected long-lead times,” she says. “Therefore, the overall completion date of the entire project will vary between January and March 2022. However, the final completion will occur within the date approved by the SBC, which is May 2022.

This month, Membrane Processing and Controls (MPC) will begin on-site construction of CDR specialty process equipment/piping/controls/etc., she notes.

In January 2021, general building construction of the new CDR will be complete, and the specialty processing equipment will be substantially complete, she adds, noting over the next few months, CDR will transition from the old space to the new space, and system commissioning and Wisconsin Department of Ag licensing will take place.

By late fall 2021, MPC dairy process equipment will be substantially complete, and by winter/early spring 2022, the dairy renovation will be complete, Potts says. Final completion is expected by May 2022.

• University of Wisconsin-River Falls, River Falls, Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) is nearing completion of its dairy pilot plant renovation.

The UW-River Falls Dairy Pilot Plant is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year. The plant is expected to double in size to 6,000 square feet. Construction began in June 2018, and the first piece of equipment — a reverse osmosis/ultrafiltration combo from Complete Filtration Resources Inc. — was installed Jan. 10, 2020, in the renovated facility.

Michelle Farner, faculty associate and dairy pilot plant manager, says officials are working on finalizing specifications for installation bids.

“We are looking forward to having the plant up and running in the next few months,” she says.


Lactalis Group to acquire Kraft Heinz natural cheese business

September 18, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. — France-based Lactalis Group this week entered into a definitive agreement for its U.S. affiliate to acquire the Kraft Heinz Co.’s natural, grated, cultured and specialty cheese businesses for a purchase price of $3.2 billion. The proposed transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory review and approval.

The transaction includes Kraft Heinz’s natural, cultured and specialty cheese businesses in the United States; grated cheese business in Canada; and the entire international cheese business outside these two countries. Brands Lactalis will acquire include Breakstone’s, Knudsen, Polly-O, Athenos, Hoffman’s, Cracker Barrel (U.S. only) and Cheez Whiz (outside the U.S. and Canada only). Additionally, Kraft Heinz will partner with Lactalis on a perpetual license for Kraft in natural, grated and international cheeses and Velveeta in shredded and international cheeses.

Kraft Heinz will retain the Philadelphia cream cheese, Kraft Singles, Velveeta processed cheese and Cheese Whiz processed cheese businesses in the United States and Canada, and the Kraft, Velveeta, Cracker Barrel Mac & Cheese, and Kraft Sauces businesses worldwide.

Under terms of the transaction, Lactalis will acquire three Kraft Heinz production facilities in Tulare, California; Walton, New York; and Wausau, Wisconsin; and a distribution center in Weyauwega, Wisconsin. Approximately 750 Kraft Heinz employees will be joining Lactalis, and Lactalis expects to add more U.S. jobs to support this business following the closing of the transaction.

“We believe these cheese and dairy businesses will thrive in the hands of a global dairy company like Group Lactalis,” says Miguel Patricio, CEO, Kraft Heinz. “At the same time, the transaction will enable us to build sustainable competitive advantage in businesses where we have stronger brand equity, greater growth prospects and can use our manufacturing scale and consumer-based platforms approach. This is a great example of agile portfolio management at work.”

The cheese businesses being sold contributed approximately $1.8 million to Kraft Heinz’s net sales for the 12 months ended June 27, 2020.

“The people at Kraft Heinz have built an extraordinary portfolio of high-quality cheese products and brands that consumers love and trust — and we are honored to have been chosen by Kraft Heinz to help carry this legacy forward,” says Thierry Clément, CEO, Lactalis North America. “This combination of complementary offerings is a clear strategic and cultural fit that will create important new opportunities for domestic and international expansion, product innovation, and positive community and employee impact. We look forward to working with and learning from our new colleagues, building on our proud histories together and continuing our collaborative strategy for expansion: to invest, to include, to support and to grow.”

Lactalis Group’s portfolio of brands includes Président, Galbani, Parmalat, Stonyfield Organic, Siggi’s, Karoun, Rondele and Black Diamond. In the United States, Lactalis has eight plants in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Idaho, Arizona and California, and 2,600 employees across the country. Lactalis is present in 51 countries, with 266 dairy and cheese manufacturing facilities and 85,000 employees around the world.


Pine River expands reach, variety as it begins plans for future ownership

MNEWTON, Wis. — Pine River Pre-Pack Inc. has earned a strong reputation for its award-winning cold pack and cheese spreads. From its top-selling classic Port Wine to the more recently trending Spicy Beer and Ghost Pepper flavors, Pine River is constantly innovating based on customer feedback.

In August, Pine River launched its newest variety, Mango Habanero Cold Pack, currently available for a limited time.

“That flavor is made with a habanero mango jam,” says Brittany Requejo, marketing manager, Pine River Pre-Pack Inc. “You get the sweetness of the mango and then a spicy kick from the habanero, all combined with a creamy Wisconsin Cheddar. We have received a lot of good feedback on the sweet and spicy combination.”

Pine River also recently re-released its Dairy Fudge Cold Pack, which currently is available on its website and will be sold through the holiday season. Marketing Director Mary Lindemann notes that this variety, which has been available at various times in the past, can be enjoyed in a similar manner as popular chocolate spreads like Nutella. The company recently showcased the Dairy Fudge flavor on social media as a more meltable chocolate alternative to use in s’mores.

“When we made it before, it was hard to get people to grasp the idea of a cheese spread that tastes like chocolate,” Lindemann says. “But once you eat it, you’ll want more of it. It actually tastes like brownie batter.”

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Price volatility persists; outlook for holiday demand is uncertain

September 11, 2020

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Cheese prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) surged again last week, while nonfat dry milk (NDM) prices also have strengthened and butter continues to hover around $1.50 per pound.

The Cheddar barrel price pulled back a bit this week from its Sept. 4 settling price of $1.70 per pound, settling at $1.595 today. Blocks settled slightly higher today at $2.165.

Analysts say recent announcements on government purchases of dairy products as well as delayed buying from users waiting on cheese to come down from record levels earlier this summer are helping to boost cheese prices.

Lucas Fuess, director of dairy market intelligence at HighGround Dairy, Chicago, says while the price run-up will not be as stark as earlier this summer when block Cheddar hit a new record high, the government-induced demand has caused end users to increase purchasing to fulfill demand as soon as USDA finalizes contracts.

“In addition, the calendar is quickly moving toward the year-end holidays, and there likely remains some lingering demand from users who did not purchase cheese this summer when prices were higher. It is certainly possible that stronger demand could keep prices elevated in the coming weeks, but significant bearish factors remain that will ultimately weigh on prices into this winter,” Fuess says.

While the fourth quarter typically is a high demand time for dairy due to holiday buying, this year’s outlook is a bit uncertain, notes Phil Plourd, president of Blimling and Associates, Madison, Wisconsin.

“One of the things we’re wondering about is how demand will be this year into the holiday season,” Plourd says, noting retail demand has been strong all year due to the shifts from foodservice to retail during COVID-19. With many families still working and schooling from home, the typical spikes seen for holiday buying may not be as robust, he adds.

The foodservice demand picture also is a little fuzzy, says Sara Dorland, managing partner with Ceres Dairy Risk Management LLC, Seattle.

“Retail could continue to outperform last year given so many children and college students starting the school year from home. But, school lunch programs and consumption through cafeterias may be lower, offsetting some of the retail improvements,” Dorland says.

“At the same time, the weather is about to change, making al fresco dining a thing of the past for a time, and that could change consumers’ behavior. But again, take-out and delivery could increase as weary parents look for ways to reduce the burden of meal preparation for families with children staying home throughout the day. It’s a bit of a ‘wait and see.’”

Plourd agrees, noting retail demand and feeding kids at home will help to offset losses in school volume, “but I’m not sure it’s one for one. I think that’s a challenge we face for the near to medium term.”

Fuess notes from a bearish standpoint, fewer meals will be served in schools this fall, which not only will reduce demand for fluid milk, cheese and other dairy in schools but increase availability of raw milk that is available for cheese vats as Class I plants process less milk.

• Competitive powder pricing

On a more global scale, dry products like U.S. NDM have been at a competitive price point compared to international counterparts, lending support to the NDM spot market, which settled at $1.04 per pound Thursday, where it remained today.

U.S. NDM production has slowed ahead of the typical seasonal decline, and overseas demand remains strong, Dorland notes.

“That should keep prices supported through the fall at or around the $1-per-pound level, if not a bit higher. What seems to be lacking and a likely cap on higher price runs appears to be anemic domestic demand. That is off trend and likely making the market feel heavy despite record-setting exports,” she says.

Fuess says U.S. NDM remains a value buy versus other key global regions, keeping exports supported, especially into Southeast Asia.

“This demand has been a welcome counterbalance to lower Mexican demand year to date. It is likely that decent exports are balancing out lower domestic demand. Futures market values seem to meet decent resistance past the $1.05 mark, and it is likely the market will remain balanced and range-bound for the near term,” he says.

• Uncertainty lies ahead

Meanwhile, COVID-19, the upcoming U.S. presidential election and disagreements in Washington over the next stimulus bill present challenges when it comes to price forecasting for the duration of the year, analysts say.

“A lack of consensus in D.C. has delayed another stimulus bill and will cause tightened finances in many households,” Fuess says.
Dorland adds the country is transitioning into a new phase of the pandemic, and how it will impact markets is less than certain.

“That will keep volatility alive and well in the third quarter. It will be important to see how government spending and exports keep up,” she says. “Expect the unexpected.”


Per capita cheese consumption continues to rise, fluid declines

September 11, 2020

WASHINGTON — Americans are consuming more cheese than ever, according to the latest data on per capita dairy consumption recently released by USDA’s Economic Research Service.

According to USDA’s annual report on per capital consumption of dairy products, Americans consumed an average of 15.5 pounds of American-type cheeses and 22.8 pounds of other-than-American cheeses per person in 2019, up from 15.4 pounds and 22.6 pounds, respectively, in 2018. Cottage cheese consumption in 2019 remains the same as the last two years at 2.1 pounds per person.

Per capita butter consumption in 2019 also hit an all-time recorded high of 6.2 pounds, up from 6.0 pounds in 2018. Americans are consuming more dairy products overall on a milkfat/milk-equivalent basis, at an average of 653 pounds per person in 2019, up from 646 pounds in 2018.

Meanwhile, fluid milk continues its downward trend with Americans consuming an average of 141 pounds per capita in 2019, down from 145 pounds in 2018. Per capita fluid milk consumption has shown a steady downward trend since 1985, USDA data shows.

According to USDA’s annual fluid beverage milk sales report, sales of all types of fluid milk beverages in 2019 totaled 46.42 billion pounds, down from 47.25 billion pounds in 2018 and continuing a 10-year downward trend.

Whole milk sales increased from 15.90 billion pounds in 2018 to 16.12 billion pounds in 2019, while flavored whole milk increased from 708 million pounds in 2018 to 780 million pounds in 2019, USDA reports. Sales in other fluid milk categories — 2%, 1%, skim, buttermilk, eggnog and flavored other than whole — all decreased in 2019.


USDA milk production forecast raised, cheese price lowered

September 11, 2020

WASHINGTON — USDA today raised its forecast for 2020 milk production to 222.0 billion pounds and its 2021 milk production forecast to 225.4 billion pounds on higher expected growth in milk per cow in its latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report.

For 2020, USDA’s fat basis import forecast is lowered primarily on recent trade data and the expectation of lower butterfat imports. The fat basis export forecast is raised on stronger global import demand for cheese, butter and whey products. For 2021, the fat basis import forecast is reduced from the previous month primarily on lower expected imports of cheese and other dairy products, while the fat basis export forecast is raised on anticipated firm global demand for U.S. butter.

The skim-solids basis import forecast for 2020 is unchanged from the previous month, while the export forecast is raised on expectations of robust exports of nonfat dry milk (NDM) and whey products. For 2021, the skim-solids basis import forecast is raised slightly, and the export forecast is raised on continued strong international demand for skim milk powder and whey products, USDA says.

Cheese, butter and whey price forecasts for 2020 are reduced from last month, but the forecast for NDM is unchanged at $1.025 per pound. Cheese is forecast to average $1.835 per pound, down from $1.845 forecast last month, while butter is forecast to average $1.600 per pound and whey $0.350.

In 2021, price forecasts for cheese, butter and whey also are lowered to $1.705, $1.675 and $0.350 per pound, respectively, while the NDM forecast is unchanged at $1.010.

The 2020 Class III price forecast is reduced to $17.25 per hundredweight this month on lower cheese and whey price forecasts, while the Class IV price forecast is reduced to $13.40 on the lower butter price forecast. The all milk price forecast is lowered to $17.75.

In 2021, the Class III price forecast is reduced to $16.00 per hundredweight on lower cheese and whey price forecasts. The Class IV price forecast is reduced to $13.60 on the lower butter price forecast while the all milk price forecast is lowered to $17.00.


Dairy offers low-touch options to meet school menu needs

September 4, 2020

By Trina La Susa

MADISON, Wis. — As school districts across the country explore plans for students to return to classrooms this coming academic year, the way meals are being offered to students will change to ensure minimal contact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While there will be fewer items on the menu come fall, dairy remains well-positioned to meet student needs for individually packaged, single-serve products, according to Scott Dissinger, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI).

“There will definitely be a shift to individually wrapped products, most likely single-serve, because schools are really looking for what they are referring to as ‘low-touch’ or ‘no-touch’ solutions,” Dissinger says. “In that regard, I think that dairy is well-positioned because when you think of the product portfolio that we offer in schools, there are a lot of single-serve items. Milk comes in that 8-ounce carton and it is required to be a part of every meal, but there’s also single-serve cheese sticks and yogurts.

“Most likely, there will be a lot of pre-packaged sandwiches that are offered, and according to the large distributors I’ve talked with, just about every sandwich, wrap and different form of hand-held meal offered has cheese on it,” he adds.

School meals are based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dissinger says that under the Dietary Guidelines, milk remains a component that is required to be offered with each meal. Additionally, cheese and yogurt are substitutable for meat, adding another option for dairy, he says.

Camellia Patey, vice president, school wellness partnerships, National Dairy Council, says there are three basic scenarios for serving meals that schools are planning to adopt. Most districts were asked to submit one of the three options or a combination.

The first option allows schools to serve meals in the classroom without going down to a cafeteria, which works well particularly at the elementary age level, she says. Another option, grab-and-go, would allow stations to be set up in different areas of the schools and would rotate children to pick up meals either at these stations or in the cafeteria and then go back in the classroom and eat, she says.

Patey says that what’s happening more and more is the remote option, where students learn at home in a virtual or online capacity, and their breakfast and lunch for one or more days are available for pickup at a remote location or via delivery. This third option is what nearly all students experienced this past spring, she says.

Dissinger notes that classrooms shifting to virtual adds a degree of complexity for getting the food to the students, but schools are becoming creative with how they provide meals.

“For a lot of the food-insecure, the school meal is a critical part of the food that they are going to get in the course of a day and in the course of a week, so schools have been pretty creative in terms of how they get the food to the students,” Dissinger says. “Some schools are using bus routes to deliver meals and having to bundle a series of meals for the week into a container to put on these buses and take out to the kids. A second way that they’re doing this is developing curbside pickup programs, and that could be either a drive up or walk up solution for the folks to come and get the meals. In all of those, the degree of complexity is how many of those stations can you have.”

Many school districts are focused on students in younger grades learning in-person with their teacher in school classrooms, whereas some of the older grades are more likely to learn remotely, Patey notes. Some school districts are proposing ideas such as sending half the students to school on the first two days of the week, then holding a cleaning day, and then the other half of students will go to school on the other two days, she says.

In the short term, Dissinger says there will not be new dairy innovations offered because schools want to see what happens in the first semester back. Now that spring has passed, he says the schools and the supply chain have a better handle on how to manage through the different serving scenarios.

“I think there will be a little bit of a ‘wait and see’ for the first few months just to assess how things are going, how things are working and use that as a laboratory to look to the future. We don’t see too much new happening right out of the gate, but they’ll start to study it,” he says.

• Increased flexibilities

Since the beginning of the pandemic, USDA has introduced waivers to help give states, schools and childcare providers the flexibilities they need to operate USDA child nutrition programs, the School Breakfast Program. Some of the waivers USDA recently extended give flexibility on serving times and allow parents to pick up meals. There also are some options on the meal pattern, and the different components that are required to be offered with each meal have some flexibility, Patey says.

“Basically, for dairy, what it means is that lowfat and fat-free milk are still the milks that are required to be offered because that is what’s stated in the Dietary Guidelines, and now they have added a waiver that says if for some reason, there are difficulties such as a disruption in the supply that does not allow them to provide lowfat or fat-free milk, they can provide another fat level if they get the state to approve that,” Patey says.

“They also have the opportunity to provide milk in larger containers because they are allowing the programs to continue on with feeding multiple meals at one time, like the remote feeding that happened this spring where they were feeding breakfast and lunch for all five days, all on one day,” she adds.

In the meantime, Patey says it’s important for dairy processors to stay connected with a school nutrition director, and to contact them to find out what’s new and what they need or whether there are any variances.

Marianne Smukowski, outreach program manager, Center for Dairy Research, notes that the dairy industry already has shown its adaptability and resilience as it continues to deal with the effects of the pandemic. If schools are open this fall, she says the dairy industry will be assessing the best ways to get dairy products into the school lunch program and likely will look to single-serve products for dining halls and cafeterias.

“I think the dairy industry has demonstrated it can change when needed. During the beginning of the pandemic, the industry has dealt with dumping of milk, storing and aging of product and shifting gears from foodservice to smaller size bags of shreds for consumer use,” Smukowski says.

• Promoting dairy in schools

To support dairy consumption in school meals, organizations are getting creative with campaigns and programs. For example, GENYOUth developed the COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Funding grant program to provide grants of up to $3,000 per school to supply resources for meal distribution and delivery efforts to get food to students during COVID-19.

From soft-sided coolers, bags and containers for individual servings, to protective gear for foodservice sanitation and safety, this equipment will help ensure children continue to receive the meals they need. Patey says the organization has raised $8.8 million to provide grants to almost 8,000 schools.

The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) recently brought the “got milk?” campaign forward on the national stage with accessible and inclusive work featuring new faces and new platforms designed to get kids and families to drink more milk, at lunch and beyond, says Melissa Malcolm-Cullison, director, national sales and field marketing, MilkPEP.

“The emergence of milk as the surprising social media superstar of the stay-at-home months inspired us to bring the iconic tagline forward to a new generation of milk drinkers,” Malcolm-Cullison says. “MilkPEP is reimagining the classic question for today’s social media-loving kids, who can take a gallon and then take to the internet to ‘show us what you got.’”

On a regional level, American Dairy Association North East (ADA North East), North Syracuse, New York, remains focused on increasing dairy consumption in school breakfast and lunch programs through educational resources and strategic support. There are 1,818 school districts, 13,865 schools and 7.2 million students in the ADA North East territory, which includes New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and part of Virginia, according to the association.

ADA North East’s Youth Program team works closely with school food nutrition directors, principals, superintendents, school nurses, athletic directors and parents to highlight the importance of dairy in each child nutrition program menu. This team continues to strive to increase meal participation and provide technical support to schools as they navigate serving scenarios in the “new normal.”

While it still is unclear how institutional foodservice changes will affect dairy product consumption in schools, ADA North East says it will continue to promote recipes and menus that are dairy-centric and assist school districts with implementing programs for dairy product placement on school menus to increase dairy sales.

ADA North East also recently launched a new online resource, Nutrition Connection, at that offers school food nutrition directors valuable tools, resources and links to help provide students with healthy meals in a safe and efficient environment.


Opportunities in dairy exports highlighted at virtual town hall

September 4, 2020

By Rena Archwamety

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin and national dairy industry leaders presented and answered questions about the importance of U.S. dairy exports Tuesday during the final in a series of five virtual AgTalks town hall meetings.

AgTalks was formed in conjunction by Farmers for Free Trade, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and other food and ag organizations to discuss challenges American agriculture faces in trade, international supply chains and global competitiveness. Previous virtual town halls were held in July and August in Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania. A summary report of all the town hall discussions will be available in the coming months at

Ag broadcaster Pam Jahnke emceed, and Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), moderated Tuesday’s event, which featured panelists from across Wisconsin’s dairy supply chain. Vilsack notes that 20% to 30% of what is grown and raised in the United States has to be exported, meaning 20% to 30% of U.S. farm income relies on these sales. About 15% to 17% of U.S. milk production goes to exports.

Across the board, panelists stressed that expanding dairy trade opportunities will bring tangible benefits to Wisconsin and U.S. dairy farmers, processors, exporters and rural communities.

Chad Vincent, CEO of the checkoff-funded Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW), notes that the equivalent of one in seven days of milk production goes overseas. He also highlights the “90/90 rule” in Wisconsin, where 90% of the state’s milk is turned into cheese, and 90% of this cheese is sold out of state.

“Wisconsin is well-positioned, as a leader in cheese, for great potential for exports in the future,” Vincent says. “What concerns me is, in Wisconsin alone, very few elected officials come from a farm background. Our ability to provide information to elected officials is important.”

While DFW does not engage in lobbying activities that impact trade policy, Vincent notes that it does help to bring global buyers to Wisconsin, which aids in sales of millions of pounds of cheese and butter. He credits organizations like USDEC and the Consortium for Common Food Names for their work in opening doors and breaking down barriers to trade around the world.

“Our farming families produce nutritious and wholesome milk that ends up in dozens of international markets as ingredients or dairy products. It is important that the U.S. government continue to work towards fairer trade rules, and we’ll continue to provide Wisconsin milk to help feed families around the world,” Vincent says.

Many of the panelists noted that one of the major barriers to trade has been the European Union’s (EU) use of geographical indications (GIs) to reduce competition in global markets for certain types of cheeses. Tariffs also are a large obstacle in many global markets.

“The EU is way ahead of us in getting bilateral agreements in place, and they lead with geographical indications,” says Jeff Schwager, president of Sartori Cheese, Plymouth, Wisconsin. “We pay more in duties per kilogram than the EU does in exports to the U.S. China has large retaliatory tariffs on cheese, which has slowed business ... Canada has a bilateral trade agreement with the EU that is more favorable with cheese imports.”

Exports are needed in order to grow the market for the milk produced currently and in the future, and fair agreements will allow U.S. exporters to compete on even footing, Schwager says.

“We are proud to be a family-owned business with a long legacy of sharing Wisconsin dairy with the world,” he says. “We would like to continue serving customers around the world, but unfair rules and unbalanced trade relationships have at times made expanding exports difficult. This harms our dedicated workers and our supplying farmers.”

Randy Romanski, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), says dairy is a powerhouse for Wisconsin’s economy, and DATCP’s International Business Center helps connect dots between Wisconsin products and customers around the world. He notes that despite the impact of COVID-19 this year, exports were up over last year’s depressed numbers. In addition to Wisconsin’s substantial cheese exports, whey also is a strong mover, especially as new parts of the world are opening up to U.S. dairy, he says.

“Trade is key to the health of Wisconsin’s dairy industry, and it’s critical that we all work together to keep Wisconsin dairy exports moving,” he says, adding that open access to markets, eliminating trade barriers and enforcing trade agreements as much as possible are needed to allow U.S. dairy to compete fairly.

Jeff Lyon, CEO of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, says FarmFirst has been working to bring in speakers and experts to keep its members up to date on industry innovations and other issues such as trade and exports. He also notes the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the resiliency of dairy farmers and the importance of ensuring that U.S. dairy products can continue to succeed in overseas markets.

“It is critical that our lawmakers support our hardworking dairy farmers by continuing to fight for fair trade and the smooth export of American-made dairy products,” Lyon says.

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF, stresses that the United States cannot accept unjust trade barriers that limit export dairy market access.

“The dairy industry in Wisconsin, and around the country, is counting on the U.S. government to help open new doors and strengthen our international supply chains through a robust and forward-leaning trade policy,” he says.

Trade opportunities for the U.S. dairy industry are huge, Mulhern notes.

“We are among the most efficient milk-producing countries in the world. We have a strong processing industry. We need trade agreements to level the playing field,” he says. “If we don’t have a clear policy and a clear focus of approach, we will continue to play catch-up.”

Schwager suggests trade officials stop taking a short-term, partisan approach to trade, and instead focus on the long view.

“Change in policies every four to eight years does not help business or farm policy,” he says.

A poll taken during the town hall indicated that 68% of attendees believed tariffs and quantity restrictions were the most challenging non-tariff trade barriers that should be addressed immediately in key countries. Labeling requirements came in second at 23%, while technical and administrative regulations came in third at 20%. In another question, 68% of respondents said they were aware the EU is using GIs to block U.S. dairy exports.

“We all have work to do for folks to fully understand and appreciate the barriers in the marketplace,” Vilsack says. “NMPF and USDEC are working on punching back on these issues, but there still is a lot of work to be done in that area.”


July cheese production is up 1.8% from 2019, USDA reports

September 4, 2020

WASHINGTON — U.S. cheese production in July totaled 1.107 billion pounds, up 1.8% from July 2019’s 1.088 billion pounds, according to data released this week by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Dairy Production chart on page 15.) July’s total was down 0.4% from June’s 1.111 billion pounds or down 3.6% on an average daily basis.

Italian-type cheese production in July totaled 457.1 million pounds, down 1.5% from July 2019. Production of Mozzarella, the largest component of Italian-type cheese production, totaled 368.8 million pounds in July, up 0.2% from a year earlier.

American-type cheese production in July totaled 451.7 million pounds, up 4.0% from July 2019. Production of Cheddar, the largest component of American-type cheese, totaled 321.2 million pounds in July, up 5.0% from last year.

Wisconsin was the leading cheese-producing state with 280.6 million pounds produced in July, up 1.2% from the previous year. California produced the second most cheese in July at 202.5 million pounds, down 3.8% from a year earlier.

U.S. production of butter totaled 151.8 million pounds in July, up 0.7% from July 2019. July U.S. butter production was up 1.1% from June’s 150.2 million pounds, but down 2.2% on an average daily basis. California led the nation in butter production with 52.8 million pounds in July, up 16.6% from a year earlier.


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
Sept. 24, 2020

Barrels: $1.6325 (+1/4)
Blocks: $2.5400 (NC)

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Cheese Production
U.S. Total July
1.107 bil. lbs.

Milk Production
U.S. Total August
18.600 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Welcome to budget season:
Will volatility decline next year?

Lucas Fuess, HighGround Dairy

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