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A fromage marriage: Demand rises for cheese wheel cakes

June 26, 2015

By Chelsey Dequaine

MADISON, Wis. — It seems the negative strings behind the phrase “who cut the cheese?” are falling off. Instead of traditional wedding cakes, brides and grooms are cutting their cheese wheel wedding cakes and saying “I do” to an artisan cheese movement.

Ken Monteleone, owner, Fromagination, Madison, Wisconsin, says he wasn’t shocked when his cheese shop began receiving requests for cheese wheel wedding cakes.

“It happened organically,” he says. “Customers came to us asking for cheese trays for weddings, then we got calls asking for cakes of cheese. It’s still in its infancy, but it seems to be catching on. Being in Wisconsin, people are going to serve cheese at weddings any ways, so why not do it in a unique way?”

Monteleone says Fromagination has two types of customers: those who want a cheese cake at a wedding and those who are looking for cheese in addition to a cake as a reception course before dinner. He says it’s been fun working with couples.

“You can get very creative, especially if you look at the beauty of an artisan cheese wheel,” Monteleone says. “Our cheesemakers are so creative in the shape of their cheeses that they become perfect for a cake.”

Fromagination began making cheese wheel cakes five years ago. The service wasn’t marketed, but Monteleone says the company made them as they were requested.

“The last two years its seems more people come to us wanting cakes,” he says. “We love it. It’s another way to showcase what’s going on in our state with artisan cheeses.”

Depending on the cheese, cakes can be paired with dried fruit. Fromagination also offers guidance with cake decorations.

“It’s interesting when you look at colors and textures,” Monteleone says. “You can make it very unique.”

The demand for Fromagination’s cakes isn’t only in Wisconsin. This month, Monteleone says the store shipped a Groomsmen cake ($50), a small side cake, to Brooklyn.

While Monteleone says most of Fromagination’s orders are custom, he wanted to create a page on the company’s website showcasing what the shop does or could do. Click on the “shop” tab at www.fromagination.com to find “cakes of cheese.”

“The website is a starting point,” Monteleone says. “We sit down one-on-one with people and ask a series of questions. They taste cheeses, then we establish what they like. We build the cake on their preferences. Regardless of the kind of cheese they prefer, we can build a cake from there.”

Fromgination’s El Cantito Cake is the cheapest cheese wheel cake offered on its website ($65). The two bottom layers are LaVon Brie made with cow’s milk. The middle layer is LaClare Farms Martone made with cow’s and goat’s milk. The top layer is Landmark Creamery Petit Nuage made with sheep’s milk. The entire cake serves about 52 people.

“El Cantito — the little song — is not enough for a grand fiesta, but it will serve a small gathering of well-wishers or wedding attendants,” Fromagination says. “All three of the cheeses incorporated pair well with other reception items such as wine, fruit, crackers and preserves.”

The website also features a Rustic Reunion Cake ($350), Meadow Memoir Cake ($350), Summer Festival Cake ($450), La Reine du Pacage Cake ($550), Pure Bliss ($450) and The Old Country Cake ($550).

“Depending on your ancestry, this cake might help you include the spirit of your great-grandmother at your wedding,” Fromagination says of The Old Country Cake, which can serve up to 200 guests. “It features a blend of cow and sheep milk cheeses from Wisconsin, Spain, Ireland and Minnesota.”

Cypress Grove Chevre, Arcata, California, began selling cakes of its signature Humboldt Fog cheese in 2008. The company says the cheese looks like a cake because of its bloomy white penicillium candidum rind that protects the cheese and the line of ash through the center.

“We didn’t think of stacking the different sized wheels into cake form until Venissimo (a San Diego cheese shop with four locations) sent us a picture of its creation,” says Janne Rasmussen, marketing manager, Cypress Grove. “We’ve been selling them directly and through distributors and retailers ever since.”

Cypress Grove’s 9-pound Ultimate Cheese Cake ($205+) starts with a 5-pound wheel of Humboldt Fog, a 3-pound Truffle Tremor in the middle and a 1-pound Humboldt Fog Mini on top . Optional add-ons include a 1-pound Truffle Tremor Mini ($27) or slices of Bermuda Triangle ($37.50) around the outside of the bottom two layers.

“We’re glad to see other cheesemakers and cheese shops jumping on board and offering their own versions,” Rasmussen says. “From groom’s cakes to gluten and sugar-free options, we love seeing cheese become a bigger part of special moments.”

Rasmussen also says Cypress Grove is launching a Facebook giveaway contest of its Ultimate Cheese Cake. Participants tell the company about someone they know who deserves the cake. Cypress Grove will choose one winner who will have a year to claim a Ultimate Cheese Cake for the special occasion of his/her choice. For more information, visit www.Facebook.com/CypressGrove.

Carr Valley Cheese Co., Middleton, Wisconsin, lists four “Celebration Cakes” on its website (www.carrvalleycheese.com), but says the possibilities are endless. The company began offering cakes in 2010.

“I see a movement away from the traditional cakes to more non-traditional choices, so this follows that trend,” says Patty Koenig, senior administrator, Carr Valley. “I see it growing for the future.”

Because Carr Valley offers different types of wheels, the cost varies on the age, style and milk used. Koenig says average prices are $150-$300.

Koenig also says a typical cake would be a 10-pound bottom layer of its Gouda, a 6-pound middle layer of its Glacier Point Blue and a 3-pound top layer of a custom-made Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar all dipped in white wax for $175. Most cake choices take two to three weeks to prepare. The white wax covering allows the hosts to decorate them as they please.

“These cakes have become a favorite of cheese lovers and have been served in place of dessert for those who do not have a sweet tooth, but more commonly we see these as a beautiful and creative way to serve artisan cheese during a cocktail hour or reception,” Koenig says. “The leftovers are a great party favor to offer guests. The partial wheels can be cut, wrapped and distributed to guests as they leave.”

The demand for cheese wheel wedding cakes isn’t just in the United States. Bespoke Cheese Co., England, offers several ready-to-go cake designs ($238-$301). However, Sophie Wilcock, owner, Bespoke Cheese, says the majority of its business is for custom Bespoke designs.

“Customers come to us with their favorite cheeses, the number of people attending the occasion, accompaniments needed and any other details,” Wilcock says. “Then we design a cake tailored to their requirements.”

Bespoke custom designs are typically for larger cakes costing around $475. Wilcock says hard cheeses, such as Cheddar and Yarg, are the most popular.

The biggest cheese wheel wedding cake Bespoke has made was 26-pounds of cheese. While Wilcock says she sees cheese wheel wedding cakes being ordered by mostly young couples, she says cheese knows no age.

“We’ve found while traditional cakes still have a place at weddings, couples are looking for something different –– quirkier,” Wilcock says. “Traditional cake is often left at the end of weddings, whereas cheese seems to go down well and can double as evening food for guests.”

Currently, Bespoke offers artisan cracker selections on request with cakes purchases. However, Wilcock says cake accompaniments is an area the company is looking to expand into in the near future.

While Sartori Cheese, Plymouth, Wisconsin, does not offer completed cheese wheel wedding cakes, it does offer 20-pound wheels of its Reserve Line cheese ($300-$350) via an online cheese shop for customers to assemble their own cakes.

“We’ve been helping cheese aficionados make their wedding dreams come true with these wheels,” says Hannah Geise, assistant marketing manager, Sartori Cheese. “Those connected to the local food, artisan movement are more likely to have this type of presentation.”

Geise says Sartori’s Merlot BellaVitano is popular for cheese wedding cake inquiries because of its purple rind. Additionally, the product description has a wedding theme.

“By wedding this rich, creamy cheese to the berry and plum notes of Merlot, we’ve created a marriage of flavors destined to make your taste buds say, ‘I do,’” says the Merlot BellaVitano description on Sartori’s website. “If you invite a few friends from our pairing guide — toasted walnuts, thin slices of prosciutto and semisweet chocolates for dessert — the honeymoon never has to end.”

Geise also says Sartori’s BellaVitano Gold also is a common choice because of its white/ivory tone. As a cake topper, the 6-pound wheel of Dolcina Gorgonzola ($100) is commonly purchased.

“With specialty cheese trends on the rise and more people falling in love with the artisan movement, we see this happening more often,” Geise says. “It’s something different and memorable, and cheese is a unique alternative for couples who aren’t interested in sweets.”

Fromagination also offers a service where its cheesemongers cut and serve the cake at the wedding or event. If declined, a cake diagram will be included to describe each layer, flavor profile and how to cut it.

Most commonly, Monteleone says fresh cheese is in demand in the summer months, pairing with strawberries, blueberries and champaign. In the fall and winter months, alpine-style and heavier cheeses are more common.

Wedding favors are another new segment of business Monteleone didn’t expect to grow at Fromagination. Instead of buying wedding favors, customers can offer slices of a reserve.

“It’s opening another area of development for us,” he says. “We never thought we would be in the wedding business.”

Monteleone keeps the store active with wedding events. In April, Fromagination held a vintage-inspired wedding open house. In fall, Monteleone says the store plans to be involved in more wedding expos. The company was even included in the June issue of Martha Stuart Weddings representing Wisconsin as it showcased its Wedding Favor Package in “50 Born-in-the-USA Favors”.

“We are learning about where cheese is becoming more popular and has presence,” Monteleone says.

CMN


U.S. Senate passes TPA bill; president expected to sign

June 26, 2015

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Wednesday passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by a vote of 60-38, sending the legislation to the president who is expected to sign it into law. TPA will help streamline the passage of trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by allowing only an up or down vote by Congress with no amendments. Last week the U.S. House passed the TPA legislation.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who authored the bill along with Finance Committee Ranking Member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says Washington has not acted on trade policy of this magnitude in nearly 15 years.

“With Trade Promotion Authority back in our trade arsenal, we can continue as the premier leader on global trade and open more international markets for American farmers, ranchers and businesses,” Hatch says.

Dairy and other agriculture industry organizations praised the Senate’s passage of TPA, saying it will help bring more export opportunities for their products. (See column, “Congress clears path for expanded trade opportunities,” on page 4 in this week’s issue of Cheese Market News.)

“The U.S. dairy industry will continue to grow and prosper with increased trade opportunities, and TPA is critical to ensuring that U.S. dairy companies receive the best deal in future trade agreements,” says Connie Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “We thank all the senators and representatives who supported TPA and look forward to the president signing this important legislation into law as soon as possible.”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) say TPA, which expired in 2007, is important to the U.S. dairy industry because the United States now exports the equivalent of one-seventh of its milk production.

“The U.S. dairy industry has been a strong advocate for TPA,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF. “In turn, we have seen a broad level of support for TPA from many members of Congress in dairy districts and states. TPA now must be used by our negotiators to conclude a positive outcome for U.S. dairy producers in TPP so that we are able to realize the net trade benefits that a strong agreement could offer to the industry.”

USDEC President Tom Suber adds, “To remain competitive globally, our sector needs trade agreements to maximize our export opportunities across the wide range of dairy products produced in the United States. We are confident that TPA will help the United States effectively pursue that path and expect our trade negotiators to insist on nothing less than balanced agreements with positive results for our industry.”

Additionally, NMPF and USDEC praised the Senate’s passage of complementary Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation to help those who lose jobs as a result of trade, and they urged the House to quickly approve TAA and send it to the president as well. (See “House passes TPA bill separately from TAA” in last week’s issue of Cheese Market News.)

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says American farmers and ranchers lead the world in exporting food, fiber and energy products, but for their success to continue, the United States must expand access to new markets across the globe.

“The Senate’s bipartisan passage of Trade Promotion Authority sends a strong signal to foreign governments that we mean business at the bargaining table and are ready to complete new agreements that will break down trade barriers and open new markets from Asia to Europe,” Stallman says.

CMN


GMA, IDFA appeal ruling on Vermont GMO labeling law

June 26, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Snack Food Association and National Association of Manufacturers this week filed a brief with a federal appellate court claiming that a district court judge erred in refusing to block implementation of a Vermont law that would require the labeling of products with ingredients from genetically engineered (GE) plants.

In the appellate brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the four trade associations are challenging Vermont’s Act 120 as violating the First Amendment’s free-speech guarantee because they say it imposes burdensome new speech requirements on food manufacturers and retailers.

The Vermont law requires food manufacturers to include a label on certain products with GE ingredients that indicates the products are or may be “produced with genetic engineering.” It also prohibits manufacturers from using the word “natural” or similar words to describe those products.
On April 27, the U.S. District Court in Vermont denied a motion for preliminary injunction to stop the law from going into effect while the legal challenge was pending. Vermont’s labeling law is set to take effect in July 2016. (See “Judge rules lawsuit against Vermont GMO law can stand” in the May 1, 2015, issue of Cheese Market News.)

The brief alleges that the judge incorrectly concluded that the Vermont law compels only “purely factual and uncontroversial information” and therefore was subject to lesser judicial scrutiny. The issue of labeling foods with GE ingredients is anything but “uncontroversial,” the brief says: “Indeed, it is difficult to point to a current topic more hotly debated in many circles than genetic engineering of crops.”

The brief also alleges that the judge improperly concluded that Vermont had offered sufficient justification for the law beyond mere consumer curiosity and says, “the State simply lists the reasons why a consumer might be curious about GE-derived food — including public health, food safety, and environmental impact — without actually adopting any of those concerns.”

The groups say under precedent — from the same court of appeals that will hear this case — that justification is insufficient to compel speech under the First Amendment.

Additionally, the brief claims the district court erred in declining to grant a preliminary injunction, noting that the lower court agreed with the groups’ First Amendment challenge to Vermont’s ban on the use of the word “natural” in products containing GE ingredients. Because a First Amendment violation necessarily gives rise to irreparable harm — a prerequisite for an injunction — a preliminary injunction should have been issued, the brief says. The business groups contend that companies will be forced to revise their business practices now in order to comply with the law because of the lead time required to restructure their supply and distribution chains to segregate Vermont-bound products at each level.

“If Act 120 is struck down, their efforts will all be for naught, and the harm done to their businesses cannot be repaired,” the brief says. “The losses of employee time and energy, and the diversion of staff and resources to compliance issues instead of new business opportunities, are also severe irreparable harms to plaintiffs’ members.”

CMN


Winners named in 2015
Wisconsin State Fair Contest

June 26, 2015

WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Winners have been selected in the 28 classes of the 2015 Wisconsin State Fair Cheese & Butter Contest, which took place here yesterday at the Wisconsin State Fair Park.

The 2015 Grand Master Cheesemaker will be named and recognized, along with the other winning cheesemakers, during the Blue Ribbon Cheese & Butter Auction Aug. 13 at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. Funds raised at the auction, which features the sale of the blue-ribbon entries, benefit the Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Promotion Board to help support scholarships for students pursuing dairy-related degrees, the House of Moo dairy education center and Wisconsin State Fair milking demonstrations.

This year’s contest included 372 entries from throughout the state. The top three entries in each category are as follows:

• Mild Cheddar

First: Jeff Berg, Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., 99.2.

Second: Dale Schmidt, Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., 98.4.

Third: Dan Stearns, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., 98.0.

• Aged Cheddar

First: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., 99.625.

Second: Jeff Berg, Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., 99.525.

Third: Dale Schmidt, Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., 99.375.

• Colby, Monterey Jack

First: Kerry Henning, The Artisan Cheese Exchange, Sheboygan, Wis., Colby, 99.225.

Second: Kirk Hansen, Nasonville Dairy, Marshfield, Wis., Colby Jack, 98.525.

Third: Dale Schmidt, Land O’Lakes, Kiel, Wis., Monterey Jack, 98.5.

• Swiss Styles

First: Silvan Blum, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Swiss Wheel, 98.925.

Second: Neal Schwartz, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Swiss Wheel, 98.9.

Third: Team Chalet, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Baby Swiss Block, 98.35.

• Brick, Muenster

First: Gary Grossen, Babcock Hall Dairy Plant, Madison, Wis., Brick, 99.825.

Second: Dave Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Brick, 99.7.

Third: Chad Duhai, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, Wis., Muenster, 99.6.

• Mozzarella

First: George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis., Part Skim Mozzarella Ball, 98.7.

Second: Ben Kolaske, BelGioioso Cheese, Green Bay, Wis., Mozzarella Snacking Cheese, 98.675.

Third: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wis., Low Moisture Mozzarella, 98.6.

• String Cheese

First: Cesar Luis, Cesar’s Cheese, Columbus, Wis., Hand-Stretched String Cheese, 99.25.

Second: George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis., Farmers Rope, 99.1.

Third: George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis., String Cheese, 98.7.

• Blue Veined Cheese

First: Team Salemville, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, Wis., Reserve Blue Cheese, 99.075.

Second: Team Salemville, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, Wis., Blue Cheese, 98.875.

First: Team Salemville, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Richfield, Wis., Gorgonzola, 98.725.

• Feta

First: Jim Demeter, Klondke Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Feta in Brine, 99.5.

Second: Lenny Bass, Lactalis USA, Belmont, Wis., Feta Chunk ­– Plain, 99.425.

Third: David Schmidt, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Feta, 99.35.

• Flavored Pepper Cheese

First: Heriberto Nickolas, Maple Leaf Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Chipotle White Cheddar, 99.775.

Second: Duane Peterson, Arla Dofino, Kaukauna, Wis., Jalapeño Havarti, 99.525.

Third: Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy, Brodhead, Wis., Pepper Havarti, 99.475.

• Flavored Soft Cheese

First: Tony Gessler, Lactalis USA, Merrill, Wis., Garlic & Herbs Spread, 98.9.

Second: George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis., Marinated Fresh Mozzarella, 98.85.

Third: Lyle Gast Jr., Lactalis USA, Merrill, Wis., Garden Vegetable Spread, 98.8.

• Flavored Semi-Soft Cheese

First: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Caraway Brick, 99.4.

Second: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Caraway Muenster, 99.05.

Third: Marieke Penterman, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Gouda Burning Mélange, 99.0.

• Smoked Flavored Cheese

First: Wally Hartwig, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, Wis., Smoked Brick, 99.575.

Second: Tom Jenny, Carr Valley Cheese, Mauston, Wis., Smoked Creama Kasa, 99.525.

Third: Josh Johnson, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, Wis., Smoked Brick, 99.475.

• Flavored Hard Cheese

First: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Merlot BellaVitano, 99.15.

Second: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Balsamic BellaVitano, 98.95.

Third: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Espresso BellaVitano, 98.4.

• Smear Ripened Cheese

First: Andy Hatch, Upland’s Cheese, Dodgeville, Wis., Pleasant Ridge Reserve, 99.35.

Second: Team Emmi Roth, Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis., Grand Cru Reserve, 99.325.

Third: Team Emmi Roth, Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis., Grand Cru Surchoix, 99.0.

• Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food

First: Joey Widmer, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars, Theresa, Wis., Aged Brick Spread, 99.625.

Second: Phil Lindemann, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Wis., Chunky Bleu Flavor Cold Pack, 99.4.

Third: Dan Steeno, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Wis., Chunky Bleu Flavor Cold Pack, 99.3.

• Pasteurized Process Cheese, Cheese Food, Cheese Spread

First: Process Cheese Team, AMPI, Portage, Wis., Pasteurized Process American, 98.7.

Second: Process Cheese Team, AMPI, Portage, Wis., Pasteurized Process American, 98.0.

Third: Dairy Farmers of America, Plymouth, Wis., Pasteurized Process American, 97.8.

• Reduced Fat or Lite Cheese

First: Jim Demeter, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Reduced Fat Feta Mediterranean, 99.475.

Second: William Knox, Maple Leaf Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Low Fat Cheddar, 99.3.

Third: Dale Koenig, Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wis., Smoked Reduced Fat Provolone, 99.25.

• Open Class — Soft and Spreadable Cheese

First: Shawn Schult, Lactalis USA, Merrill, Wis., Whipped Cream Cheese, 99.325.

Second: George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, Wis., Mascarpone, 99.15.

Third: Lenny Bass, Lactalis USA, Belmont, Wis., Brie Plain, 98.875.

• Havarti

First: Bruce Workman, Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello, Wis., 99.5.

Second: Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy, Brodhead, Wis., 98.75.

Third: Decatur Dairy Team, Decatur Dairy, Brodhead, Wis., 98.725.

• Flavored Havarti

First: Ben Workman, Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello, Wis., Dill Havarti, 98.875.

Second: Team Emmi Roth, Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis., Jalapeño Havarti, 98.75.

Third: Matt Henze, Decatur Dairy, Brodhead, Wis., Havarti Dill, 98.45.

• Open Class — Semi-Soft Cheese

First: Brett Krattiger, Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe, Wis., Gouda, 99.775.

Second: Marieke Penterman, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Golden, 99.725.

Third: Brett Krattiger, Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe, Wis., Swedish Fontina Wheel, 99.6.

• Open Class — Hard Cheese

First: Joel Pagel, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Classic Asiago, 99.45.

Second: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., BellaVitano Gold, 99.425.

Third: Saxon Creamery Team, Saxon Cheese, Cleveland, Wis., Saxon Alpine, 99.35.

• Flavored Goat Milk Cheese

First: Jean Rossard, Montchevre-Betin, Belmont, Wis., Blueberry Vanilla, 99.85.

Second: Adam Knapp, Woolwich Dairy USA, Lancaster, Wis., Cranberry Cinnamon Chevrai, 99.7.

Third: Adam Knapp, Woolwich Dairy USA, Lancaster, Wis., Wild Blueberry Vanilla Chevrai, 99.5.

• Natural Goat Milk Cheese

First: Pam Hodgson, Sartori Co., Plymouth, Wis., Extra Aged Goat Cheese, 98.85.

Second: Martin Chavez, Montchevre-Betin, Belmont, Wis., Cabrie, 98.0.

Third: Doug Waechter, Montchevre-Betin, Belmont, Wis., Fromage Blanc, 97.95.

• Latin American Cheese

First: Sam Sweeney, Chula Vista Cheese, Browntown, Wis., Queso Quesadilla, 99.3.

Second: Nick Siedschlag, Chula Vista Cheese, Browntown, Wis., Queso Quesadilla, 99.1.

Third: Chad Duhai, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, Wis., Queso Para Fundir, 99.075.

• Sheep & Mixed Milk Cheese

First: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Pastorale Blend, 99.6.

Second: Anna Thomas Bates, Landmark Creamery, Albany, Wis., Anabasque, 99.375.

Third: Bob Koenig, Carr Valley Cheese, Mauston, Wis., Bessie’s Blend, 99.35.

• Butter

First: Don Much, Grassland Dairy Products, Greenwood, Wis., salted butter, 99.45.

Second: Reedsburg First Shift, Foremost Farms USA, Reedsburg, Wis., salted butter, 98.95.

Third: Team Chaseburg, Organic Valley, LaFarge, Wis., European Style Cultured Unsalted Butter, 98.9.

CMN


Mifroma launches Premium line, introduces Adopt-an-Alp program

By Kate Sander

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — Cheeses from Switzerland are highly acclaimed at nearly every international cheese competition, but they haven’t necessarily been well known by U.S. consumers. Setting out to change that, though, has been Mifroma USA, a division of M-Industry USA Inc. and a subsidiary of Migros, Switzerland’s largest food retail chain.

This year, Mifroma USA, which has solidified its role as an importer of Switzerland-produced cheeses, is further expanding its presence in the U.S. market. The company is taking a two-prong approach: the addition of a high-end specialty cheese line marketed in conjunction with distributor Atalanta and an Adopt-an-Alp program that allows retailers and consumers to get up close and personal with seasonal high-end cheesemakers in the Alps.

“We’ve only begun our fifth year in the United States, and we’ve established ourselves quite well,” says Paul Schilt, executive vice president, Mifroma USA. “That’s something we want to continue.

We’ve built our traditional business first, and now we’re expanding.”

Mifroma USA offers a number of Switzerland-produced cheeses including Gruyere, Emmentaler, Appenzeller, and many others. Parent company Migros’ main cheese plant is in the western part of Switzerland, and it operates other dairy-related plants throughout the country as well.

Gruyere is the company’s biggest seller, followed by Switzerland Swiss, a milder pasteurized, rindless square Swiss block cheese. The company’s traditional Emmentaler is a distinctive raw milk cheese made in 200-pound wheels and cave aged for at least four months.

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Analysts anticipate dairy price
weakness ahead as milk flows

June 19, 2015

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Dairy market analysts note that with healthy milk production levels in the United States and across the globe, price weakness is anticipated for dairy commodities in the second half of this year.

“We should still see steady to growing milk production over the next couple of months,” says Bill Brooks, dairy economist with FCStone LLC, Chicago. Brooks this week presented a “Dairy Outlook” at FCStone’s 12th Annual Dairy Outlook Conference on Thursday in Chicago.

USDA’s May 2015 milk production report released Thursday shows an increase of 1.4 percent in total U.S. milk production over May 2014, as well as an increase of 1.4 percent in the 23 major milk-producing states.

Brooks notes that while profitability for U.S. dairy farmers is not as strong as last year, it’s still decent.

USDA’s Dairy Market News says industry contacts report cheese plants are running at full production.

“In some cases, plants have added Sunday shifts to use the abundant milk for cheesemaking,” Dairy Market News says. “Although there are some reports of disposals, most suggest the milk is being used fully and heavily discounted loads of milk are harder to find. Some manufacturers report additional loads of milk can be found at $1-$2 under Class.”

Brooks anticipates the Class I milk price this year will average $16.62 per hundredweight, down from $23.29 in 2014. He estimates Class I will average $17.30 per hundredweight in 2016.

Class II milk is forecast to average $15.33 per hundredweight, Brooks says. Also a large drop from 2014’s $23.34, he anticipates 2016 Class II will average $15.77.

Brooks’ Class III average price forecast, at $16.51 per hundredweight, is a little stronger given the somewhat unexpected strength in U.S. Cheddar prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). He anticipates CME Cheddar blocks to average $1.6639 per pound in 2015 and climb to $1.7331 in 2016. Class III milk is anticipated to average $17.61 in 2016, he says, noting this is higher than USDA’s latest estimate of $16.15-$17.15 in last week’s “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report (see article in last week’s issue).

“Our U.S. demand picture has been good, so in some ways, we’ve kind of fallen back into being a domestically-oriented market,” Brooks says.

“We’re due for a recession, though,” he adds. “We’ve had six years of growth.”

Brooks notes that with U.S. prices higher than global counterparts, he does not believe the United States will be able to maintain the level of dairy exports it has seen in recent years, and he anticipates demand also will be strained domestically in the long term.

“Lower fuel prices have helped put more disposable income into consumers’ pockets, but at the same time, higher or new health care costs have diverted a fair portion of that,” he says.

Meanwhile, a Q2 2015 Dairy Quarterly report released this week by the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory Group says that while U.S. milk prices have fallen considerably in the last eight months, a surplus of milk on the international market is likely to squeeze U.S. producer margins further as 2015 progresses.

“While we are well off the record level achieved in late 2014, producer milk prices in the U.S. are still 15 percent and 57 percent higher than those presently being paid to dairy farmers in the Netherlands and New Zealand,” says Tim Hunt, Rabobank global dairy strategist and report lead author. “Sustaining these kinds of premiums is going to get tougher in coming months as the impacts of an oversupplied international market filter back home.”

The price of key dairy commodities fell further in international markets in the second quarter and now sit at the lowest levels since 2009, Rabobank notes.

After falling marginally in the first quarter of 2015, production in key export regions rose above prior years in April as weather improved and European Union (EU) quotas were removed, Rabobank adds. In the face of ongoing weakness in China and Russia, other buyers stepped in to take most of this product, though buy-side stocks are now large and supply-side stocks are also showing signs of growing. Weaker commodity markets have fed through to the farmgate in regions like New Zealand and the EU, pushing milk prices toward or even below breakeven for producers.

The U.S. dairy market has held up better than the international market to date, Rabobank says. U.S. wholesale market pricing for nonfat dry milk and whey eased in the second quarter, with product trading in line with international pricing. However, U.S. cheese and butter prices rose and remained at a significant premium to prices in international markets in mid-June, as strong domestic demand for these products, barriers to import and the Cooperatives Working Together program kept the market tight.

Nonetheless, the second half of 2015 is likely to prove a challenging period for U.S. milk producers, Hunt notes.

Rabobank expects the international market to remain oversupplied through the coming six months as supply growth continues to outstrip demand, as China continues to rebalance and buyers end their recent stock build programs.

In this environment, sustaining the current premium for the U.S. domestic market through the second half of the year is likely to prove an impossible task, Rabobank says.

“The higher prices in place in the U.S. market are encouraging much greater production growth here than in most regions of the world,” Hunt says. “At the same time, exports are falling as processors try to direct more product to the more profitable domestic market, and imports are rising as fast as they can within the constraints of U.S. trade barriers.”

This is likely to boost local supply availability faster than the domestic market can soak up and weigh down on U.S. dairy prices, he adds.

“We expect butter and cheese prices to come in considerably below the current levels suggested by the CME forward curve in Q3 and 4, as the international milk glut feeds its way into the U.S. market,” Hunt says.

He adds that Class III milk could easily be priced below $15 per hundredweight by the fourth quarter of 2015, driving the income-over-feed costs below $7 per hundredweight for the average U.S. farmer.

“At (the) global level, we still have more milk than market right now, and unfortunately U.S. producers are unlikely to get through the next six months as easily as current futures pricing suggests,” Hunt says.

CMN


Industry stresses need for
federal GMO labeling regs

June 19, 2015

WASHINGTON — This week the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to discuss legislation on labeling food containing genetically-modified ingredients (GMOs).

During the hearing, titled “A National Framework for the Review and Labeling of Biotechnology in Food,” committee members discussed an amendment crafted jointly by the House Agriculture Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee and heard testimony from industry, government and consumer group witnesses.

The hearing comes as Vermont is poised to become the first state to require labeling on foods with GMOs in July 2016, a law that is being challenged in court by food industry groups including the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). These and other industry groups instead support federal legislation — the topic of the hearing’s discussion — that would prevent states from passing their own labeling requirements for such foods.

“A patchwork of arbitrary and inconsistent state and local labeling laws will raise consumer costs and negatively affect our ability to enhance food safety, food quality and environmental sustainability,” says Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas. “Legislation to protect and promote interstate commerce in agricultural products derived through the use and non-use of plant based genetic engineering is of critical importance. As the legislative process continues, I look forward to continuing to receive input from stakeholders and technical assistance from the Department of Agriculture to ensure the final text is correct, workable and enjoys significant bipartisan support.”

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) says Thursday’s hearing reinforces the benefits of a national standard for labeling foods with genetically modified ingredients over a patchwork of state requirements that it says would confuse consumers and frustrate food marketers.

“State-by-state GMO labeling is simply not an option,” says Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “A better approach is federal legislation endorsed by NMPF that would set up voluntary regulations for labeling foods with GMO ingredients.”

GMA says the costs, complexities and challenges for food manufacturers to comply with Vermont’s food labeling law show the need for Congress to pass federal legislation setting a uniform national food labeling standard. GMA recently sent a letter to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, saying that the costs to change labels and supply chain systems will be so great that these costs could exceed revenue to food manufacturers from the sale of products in the state.

GMA adds that testimony at this week’s House committee hearing warned of the higher food costs and greater consumer confusion from a range of different state labeling mandates and highlighted the need for a uniform national labeling standard.

“This legislation to protect our national food labeling system has strong bipartisan support, and we are pleased to see congressional committees holding hearings on the bill to understand the issues,” says Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO, GMA. “It is vitally important that the committees move this bill forward so it can be considered and passed by the House this summer and then in the Senate as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, opponents to the bill say the new amendment will not only prohibit state and local laws on GMO labeling, but also will restrict state and local governments from regulating genetically engineered crops.

“This bill would strip away a state or local government’s basic rights of local control and hand the biotech industry everything it wants on a silver platter,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of consumer group Center for Food Safety. “No member of Congress that cares about the rights and concerns of his or her constituents should support this bill.”

CMN


May milk production climbs
1.4 percent over year earlier

June 19, 2015

WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 23 major milk-producing states during May totaled 17.18 billion pounds, up 1.4 percent from May 2014, according to preliminary data released Thursday by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart.)

April revised production, at 16.63 billion pounds, was up 1.8 percent from April 2014. The April revision represents an increase of 3 million pounds, or less than 0.1 percent, from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major states averaged 1,990 pounds in May, 11 pounds above May 2014. This is the highest production per cow for the month of May since the 23-state series began in 2003, NASS says.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major states was 8.63 million head, 72,000 head more than May 2014, and 4,000 head more than April 2015.

For the entire United States, NASS reports milk production totaled 18.35 billion pounds, an increase of 1.4 percent from May 2014.

Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,971 pounds in May, 15 pounds above May 2014.

The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.31 million head, 58,000 head more than May 2014 and 3,000 head more than April 2015.

California, the nation’s top milk-producing state, was home to 1.78 million cows in May, unchanged from May 2014 and also unchanged from April 2015. However, production per cow in California in May averaged 2,050 pounds, down 60 pounds from May 2014, driving a 2.9-percent production decline in the May-to-May comparison to 3.65 billion pounds.

Wisconsin followed with production of 2.50 billion pounds in May, up 4.4 percent from a year earlier. The increase in Wisconsin was driven by both an increase in cow numbers as well as stronger production. Wisconsin was home to 1.28 million cows in May, an increase of 9,000 head from a year earlier and unchanged from a month earlier. Production per cow in Wisconsin in May averaged 1,955 pounds, up 70 pounds from May 2014.

CMN


FDA: PHOs not GRAS,
must be removed by 2018

June 19, 2015

WASHINGTON — FDA this week announced that based on a thorough review of scientific evidence, the agency is finalizing its determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in human food.

Under the declaratory order published in Wednesday’s Federal Register, FDA is giving food manufacturers three years to remove PHOs from products.

“The FDA’s action on this major source of artificial trans fats demonstrates the agency’s commitment to the heart health of all Americans,” says Stephen Ostroff, acting commissioner, FDA. “This action is expected to reduce coronary artery disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks each year.”

The determination will significantly reduce the use of PHOs, a major source of artificial trans fats, in the food supply, FDA says. In 2013, the agency made a tentative determination that PHOs no longer could be considered GRAS and is finalizing that determination after considering public comments. (See “FDA says it will ban artificial trans fats” in the Nov. 8, 2013, issue of Cheese Market News.)

Since 2006, manufacturers have been required to include trans fat content information on the Nutrition Facts label of foods. Between 2003 and 2012, FDA estimates that consumer trans fat consumption decreased about 78 percent and that the labeling rule and industry reformulation of foods were key factors in informing healthier consumer choices and reducing trans fat in foods. While trans fat intake has significantly decreased, the current intake remains a public health concern. The Institute of Medicine recommends that consumption of trans fat be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally-adequate diet.

FDA says it set a compliance period of three years to allow companies to either reformulate products without PHOs and/or petition FDA to permit specific uses of PHOs. Following the compliance period, no PHOs can be added to human food unless they are otherwise approved by FDA.

Trans fat can be found in some processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers.

Currently, foods are allowed to be labeled as having “0” grams trans fat if they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, including PHOs.

Many companies already have removed PHOs from processed foods, and FDA says it anticipates more will eliminate them ahead of the three-year compliance date.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) says it is pleased that FDA has acted in a manner that both addresses FDA’s concerns and minimizes unnecessary disruptions to commerce, adding that the association will work in collaboration with FDA to further reduce PHOs in foods.

“GMA’s food additive petition to FDA will show that the presence of trans fat from the proposed low-level uses of PHOs is as safe as the naturally-occurring trans fat present in the normal diet,” GMA says. “Food and beverage companies have already voluntarily lowered the amount of trans fat added to food products by more than 86 percent and will continue lowering PHO use in foods.”

IOI Loders Croklaan, a downstream processing division of IOI Group, one of the world’s largest vertically integrated palm oil producers, since 2003 has been focused on removing trans fat and PHO from all applications. The company has a wide range of sustainable and traceable solutions and also offers technical expertise to develop custom solutions to support customers’ conformation to the FDA mandate.

In addition, in anticipation of FDA’s announcement this week, IOI Loders Croklaan has developed a hands-on, educational course, “PHO Removal 201,” which offers participants the opportunity to work side-by-side with technical experts to learn about options to successfully replace PHOs. The course will be held in the company’s Creative Studio in Channahon, Illinois, Aug. 26-27. For more information on this and future courses, visit www.Go-No-PHO.com.

CMN


U.S. House passes bill to repeal
COOL law on beef, pork, chicken

June 12, 2015

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House this week passed the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Amendments Act 300-131. Introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chair K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, the bill amends the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946 to effectively repeal mandatory COOL requirements for beef, pork and chicken.

The legislation, which was introduced and approved in the House Ag Committee last month, comes on the heels of threats of retaliation last week from Canada and Mexico. The countries say the U.S. COOL requirements for beef and pork are discriminatory and a violation of U.S. international trade obligations.

“The amended COOL measure, which causes Canadian and Mexican livestock and meat to be segregated from those of U.S. origin, is damaging to North America’s supply chain and is harmful to producers and processors in all three countries,” says a statement issued last week by Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Gerry Ritz, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, and Enrique Martínez y Martínez, Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture. (See “Canada, Mexico move to retaliate on COOL” in last week’s issue of Cheese Market News.)

First authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, COOL requires information detailing where livestock were born, raised and slaughtered. The World Trade Organization (WTO) last month issued a final ruling against the U.S. COOL rule, saying it violates U.S. international trade obligations and creates an unfair advantage for U.S. products.

Under the WTO ruling, Canada and Mexico are entitled to retaliate against U.S. exports, and that could include higher tariffs on dairy products, dairy stakeholders say. (See “WTO rules against U.S. COOL law; dairy may face retaliation” in the May 22, 2015, issue of Cheese Market News.) The nations say they intend to seek more than $3 billion in retaliatory sanctions against U.S. exports.
Canada’s and Mexico’s governments are asking the WTO for a special Dispute Settlement Body meeting to request retaliation rights against the United States, to take place June 17.

Following passage of the bill to repeal COOL requirements for meat this week, Conaway said he is thankful for the support of his colleagues in passing the bipartisan bill that is a necessary targeted response to avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico. The nations’ retaliatory threat would extend far beyond the agriculture industry and would hurt nearly every sector of the U.S. economy, he adds.

“(This bill) will prevent retaliation and bring the U.S. back into compliance, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to act quickly on this urgent matter,” he says.

U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts, R-Kan., praised passage of the House bill to repeal COOL requirements for meat.

“I am continuing to take suggestions from my colleagues in the Senate for alternatives that meet our trade obligations,” Roberts says. “However, almost a month has passed since the WTO ruling was announced, and repeal remains the surest way to protect the American economy from retaliatory tariffs. We can sit here and let this happen, or we can move. Let’s get a move on.”

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which along with several dairy and industry agricultural stakeholders is part of the COOL Reform Coalition, notes that Canada already has issued a preliminary retaliation list targeting a broad spectrum of commodities and manufactured products, including dairy, which would affect every state in the United States. Mexico has not yet announced a preliminary retaliation list but has implemented retaliatory tariffs in the past, which may be indicative of future tariff actions, IDFA adds.

The COOL Reform Coalition earlier this week sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to vote in favor of COOL repeal legislation.

“Given the negative impact on the U.S. manufacturing and agriculture economies, we respectfully submit that it would be intolerable for the United States to maintain, even briefly, requirements that have been deemed non-compliant by the WTO rules that the U.S. was instrumental in writing,” the coalition says. “This is especially true because experience has shown that once such export sales are lost, it takes years to recover market share. Retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. would leave exports punished, farm prices depressed, businesses hurt and jobs lost.

However, organizations representing farm interests, rural America and consumers, including the National Farmers Union (NFU), this week in a letter to Congress urged lawmakers to reject repeal of the COOL law and support common sense food labeling.

“It is premature for Congress to unilaterally surrender to saber rattling from our trading partners in the midst of a long-standing dispute,” the letter says. “COOL opponents have highlighted Mexico and Canada’s threats of retaliation as if their aspiration to seek billions of dollars in penalties were already approved by the WTO. But these unapproved, unrealistically high retaliation claims are merely aggressive litigation tactics designed to frighten the United States — and standard practice in WTO disputes —and Congress should not fall for it.”

Following passage of the COOL reform bill in the House, NFU President Roger Johnson called the vote a “disappointing, knee-jerk overreaction” and urged the U.S. Senate to continue its “thoughtful handling” of the WTO dispute.

“We call upon the Senate to avoid the rush to judgment demonstrated by the House and work with COOL supporters on a viable alternative that will finally bring this long process to closure,” Johnson says.

CMN


Dairy industry stakeholders
testify on California pricing

June 12, 2015

SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) last week held a hearing on proposed changes to the state’s Class 4b monthly milk price calculation.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross called the hearing on the department’s own motion to consider adjustments to the pricing formula for Class 4b milk, used to make cheese. Two proposals on changes to the state’s milk pricing formula were submitted: one jointly by Western United Dairymen (WUD), Milk Producers Council (MPC) and California Dairy Campaign, and another by the Dairy Institute of California. (See “California processor, producer groups file proposals with CDFA on changes to milk pricing” in the May 22, 2015, issue of Cheese Market News.)

At the hearing, dairy producers renewed their call for a more “fair” pricing structure for milk that would align California’s 4b price closer to the Class III price in the federal milk marketing order (FMMO).

In his testimony, Rob Vandenheuvel, general manager, MPC, notes that some might point to general U.S. dairy market trends as the source of the volatility in producer profitability over the past several years.

“While there is certainly a cyclical nature at play generally in the U.S. dairy industry, California’s dairy families have been realizing lower milk prices than our out-of-state colleagues,” Vandenheuvel says. “When competing with dairy industries in other states, whether that be for animals and feed, our California producers are at a significantly weaker relative position than our competition. In addition to price alone, another indicator of this is the comparison of California’s production growth compares to the other states.”

Vandenheuvel adds that the bottom line is that MPC and the California dairy families it represents believe there is no justification for the significant gap it has seen between California’s Class 4b price and the federal order Class III price.

“That is why MPC and our fellow producer organizations and cooperative have strongly supported the secretary’s decision to focus solely on the Class 4b formula in considering price adjustments in this hearing,” he says.

Meanwhile, cheesemakers say setting milk prices at the level producers are proposing would force small cheese plants out of business, stifle investment in plant capacity and reduce demand for milk while increasing supply.

In addition to testimony presented at the hearing, in a post-hearing brief, Dairy Institute of California Economist William A. Schiek notes that the institute believes any impact of its proposal on whey prices and whey market dynamics will be negligible.

The Dairy Institute is calling for a major shift in the “whey scale” used in the state’s 4b milk pricing formula.

“We’re proposing that California update its whey scale in the 4b formula to reflect today’s market realities,” says Rachel Kaldor, executive director of the Dairy Institute of California.

“The current scale is based on the price of ‘dry whey,’ which is completely out of step with today’s market,” Kaldor says. “Our proposal would update the scale by basing it on the cost of producing liquid ‘whey protein concentrate’ (WPC), so the formula fairly and accurately represents the real value of whey byproducts in the marketplace.”

Kaldor adds that it “makes no sense” to base the scale on dry whey.

“Today’s small and medium-sized cheesemakers and other milk processors typically don’t make dry whey,” she says. “They make some form of liquid whey and sell it at a price linked to whey protein concentrate. This is today’s market reality, and California’s 4b formula should reflect this.”

In Dairy Institute’s post-hearing brief, Schiek notes whey product prices are heavily influenced by global supply and demand conditions because the U.S. exports such a significant portion of its finished whey products.

“The importance of the proposal that Dairy Institute put forward at the hearing is that it bases the contribution of whey to the Class 4b milk price on products that are actually made by the California cheese plants that process whey,” he says. “While the existing dry whey price scale may have a history, it is largely ad hoc and does not relate well to the price of whey products made in California.”

Similarly, the producer proposal, based as it is on the FMMO other solids end-product price formula, might have a history and the federal orders may have some experience with it, but such experience and history is of little value if it does not represent the whey products produced in California, Schiek adds.

“What is clear from testimony at the hearing is that very few cheese plants have whey revenue that is in direct proportion to the dry whey price,” he says. “What is also true is that the correlation between dry whey has become weaker over time.”

According to the California Farm Bureau Federation, CDFA has 62 days from the June 3 hearing date to make a decision. If any change results from the decision, the department has 10 days prior to the effective change to announce the plan.

More information from the hearing, including post-hearing briefs from more producers and processors, can be viewed at www.cdfa.ca.gov/dairy/dairy_hearings_matrix.html.

CMN


USDA increases forecasts
for both exports, imports

June 12, 2015

WASHINGTON — Based on gains in output per cow, U.S. milk production forecasts for both 2015 and 2016 are increased in USDA’s “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report released this week.

USDA increased the 2015 milk production forecast by 100 million pounds to 208.7 billion pounds, while the 2016 projection was increased by 300 million pounds from last month’s report to 213.9 billion pounds.

USDA also increased its fat basis export forecast for 2015 on higher cheese exports. The skim solids exports forecast for both 2015 and 2016 were raised on larger exports of nonfat dry milk (NDM).

Meanwhile, the forecast for fat basis imports was raised for both 2015 and 2016 on expectations of strong demand for imported cheese.

Butter, NDM and whey prices for 2015 were forecast lower on relatively abundant supplies. The butter forecast was lowered from $1.810-$1.890 per pound in last month’s report to $1.800-$1.870 in this month’s report. The NDM forecast price for 2015 was lowered from $1.025-$1.065 to $1.005-$1.045. The dry whey forecast was lowered from $0.475-$0.505 to $0.465-$0.485.

Meanwhile, the cheese price forecast was raised from$1.615-$1.665 to $1.635-$1.675 on strong demand.

The NDM and whey price forecasts were reduced for 2016 as well. The NDM forecast was lowered to $1.195-$1.265 while the dry whey forecast was lowered to $0.505-$0.535. The butter price range for 2016 was narrowed to $1.720-$1.850 and the cheese forecast was unchanged at $1.610-$1.710.

The Class III price forecast for 2015 was raised on stronger cheese prices to $16.15-$16.55 per hundredweight, up from $16.05-$16.55 in last month’s report, but on lower whey prices 2016’s forecast was reduced by 5 cents to $16.15-$17.15.

Class IV prices for 2015 and 2016 were lowered on weaker product prices. The 2015 Class IV price forecast was lowered to $14.20-$14.70, down from $14.35-$14.95, and in 2016 it’s forecast at $15.40-$16.50, down 20 cents from last month.

The all-milk price is forecast for $17.15-$17.55 in 2015 and $17.45-$18.45 for 2016.

CMN


CWT to continue export
assistance through 2018

June 12, 2015

ARLINGTON, Va. — The board of directors of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) this week voted to continue Cooperatives Working Together (CWT), the farmer-funded export assistance program, through 2018 at the current funding level of 4 cents per hundredweight. NMPF developed and manages the 13-year-old self-help program.

CWT’s extension until Dec. 31, 2018, comes at a time of increasing U.S. milk production, declining world dairy prices and increased global competition due to the removal of European Union milk quotas, NMPF says.

“With the United States exporting the equivalent of one-seventh of its milk production, (this week’s) vote will help ensure that this country remains a consistent and competitive supplier of dairy products to the world,” says Randy Mooney, NMPF Board chairman and a dairy farmer from Rogersville, Missouri.

“Through its vote, the NMPF board recognizes how important CWT is in helping every farmer gain access to fast-growing overseas markets,” Mooney adds. “The program remains a tremendous self-help tool for all of America’s dairy producers.”

CWT is a voluntary membership program funded by contributions from 37 dairy cooperatives and more than 100 individual farmers. The money raised from the CWT membership fee of 4 cents per hundredweight helps maintain U.S. exports in an increasingly competitive world market, NMPF says.

CWT’s member cooperatives submit bids requesting help with sales in specific foreign markets. Only if the amount is justified is the bid accepted and financial assistance provided. The bidder then has six months to deliver the product to the overseas purchaser.

Through the first five months of 2015 alone, CWT has helped its members contract to sell 35.1 million pounds of cheese, 26.6 million pounds of butter and 20.1 million pounds of whole milk powder. Together, these transactions will export the equivalent of 1.07 billion pounds of milk to customers in 28 countries on five continents.

CMN


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
July 1, 2015


Barrels: $1.6000 (+1 3/4)
Blocks: $1.6325 (+1 1/4)


Click here for more market activity
Cheese Production
U.S. Total April
979.123 mil. lbs.


Milk Production
U.S. Total May
18.350 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Congress clears path for expanded trade opportunities

Connie Tipton, International Dairy Foods Association

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