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CME cheese, buoyed by holiday demand, uncompetitive globally

Oct. 18, 2019

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Following the widening of the spread between Cheddar blocks and barrels at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to double digits last quarter, the gap has narrowed this month, and both prices have been above $2 per pound.

CME Cheddar blocks, which reached $2 for the first time in 2019 on Sept. 9, stayed at or near that level over the past month before dropping 3.5 cents today to settle at $1.9675.

Barrels topped the $2 level last Friday, settling at $2.0225 per pound. This week, barrels have fallen 2.25 cents but still remain at $2.00 today, with a block/barrel spread of 3.25 cents.

Cheddar prices are well above where they were at this time last year, when barrels closed the week of Oct. 19, 2018, at $1.2675 per pound and blocks closed at $1.4975.

Mike North, owner of Commodity Risk Management Group — which recently merged with Rice Dairy to form Vault Ag Holding Co. — notes three primary factors are lending support to a higher cheese market.

Flat to lower milk production has tightened availability of milk to the vat and created a tighter market for product, North says. Seasonal demand for product has buyers present to fill holiday needs as well. In addition, exports in the first half of the year kept inventory in check coming into the fall.

Phil Plourd, president of Blimling & Associates, says when looking at things at a macro level, it’s not especially perplexing to see prices this high.

“We’re in the peak demand season. We’re not carrying around tons of extra inventory as we had been for the last 2-3 years. Spot milk supplies are not plentiful or cheap. So there are several elements contributing to the current market tone,” he says. “I’m not sure it all adds up to $2 cheese, but it adds up to more than we were last year, and the high side of the historical range.”

Sara Dorland, managing partner with Ceres Dairy Risk Management, notes that, particularly for barrels, USDA placed additional orders for processed cheese at the end of September, which has injected additional demand in the system unexpectedly.

“Additionally, most processed cheese heads to foodservice use, and that should be on the rise headed into the holidays,” she says. “Blocks are tight, but demand is negatively impacted when prices move too deep in the $2-per-pound level. As a result, that could keep spreads a bit tighter through October.”

North says he does not expect cheese prices to stay at this level through the fourth quarter.

“Current spot prices are a manifestation of domestic demand that will fade as holiday orders are filled,” he says. “At current price levels, we are uninteresting to foreign buyers who can source European product for $1.50 to $1.60 per pound. Without being competitive in the world market, we will have a hard time maintaining the price levels held currently.”

And there’s the rub. While domestic demand is steady, U.S. cheese prices are wholly uncompetitive on the global market.
“U.S. dairy prices through the end of the year likely carry a substantial premium to world prices due to solid domestic demand. That could continue to hamper export efforts causing volumes to slow in the fourth quarter — that likely continues into early 2020,” Dorland says.

CME butter is at a premium to global prices as well, settling at $2.1150 per pound today. But domestic demand for butter is strong in the holiday buying season.

“With Thanksgiving falling in the waning days of November, butter contacts expect more time for shopping and, therefore, better retail push prior to the holiday” says USDA’s Dairy Market News. “With the increase in fall sales, inventories are being pared down slightly but are in balance. Cream is as available as it has been in recent weeks, both regionally and in the West. Cream suppliers report getting a few more calls from Class II and III producers. They say there could be a seasonal shortage in the next few weeks.”

However, North says a return to summer peak butter prices — which made their way into the $2.40s — is not likely.
“World butter/fat prices remain at a steep discount and will likely prevent any major run upward. Given strong, ongoing domestic demand, major price dips are not likely sustainable either.”

Meanwhile, the CME nonfat dry milk (NDM) market remains somewhat competitive on the global stage, even as prices have risen in recent weeks, settling at $1.17 per pound to close this week.

Plourd notes with powder, globally, the EU intervention stocks are gone or very dramatically dissipated and are no longer overhanging the marketplace.

“There also is strong demand into China — I’m not sure we understand all the whys around that or how permanent that is, but China has taken some powder off the marketplace,” he says.

Dairy Market News notes domestically, in the central region, more cheesemakers are using NDM for fortification and standardization as well.

“I think domestic demand has been pretty strong, and we see that continuing for a little while,” Plourd agrees. “As long as the cheese market is fairly strong, and the milk supply is growing close to flat or 0.5%, we’re not making a ton of powder, and I think there’s demand for it domestically.”

North says NDM carries the greatest advantage in the United States’ ability to export greater volumes.

“This would be perpetuated with the advance of any of the several trade deals that are currently in the mix,” he adds. “Outside of NDM, however, other product categories lack the price competitiveness to make any significant strides on the export front.”


Trump announces deal with China on ag, delay of tariffs

Oct. 18, 2019

WASHINGTON — Following a meeting with China’s Vice Premier Liu He, President Trump announced last Friday that the United States and China have come to a “very substantial phase one deal” on agricultural products, intellectual property, exchange rates and financial services.

In remarks from the Oval Office last Friday afternoon, the president noted that the deal still needs to be written and could be completed within the next several weeks, as U.S. and Chinese leaders will be meeting in Chile for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next month.

Additionally, the president announced that China has committed to purchase $40-$50 billion worth of agricultural products from the United States. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also clarified that while working on the agreement, the United States would hold off on implementing a scheduled increase of tariffs from 25% to 30% that were scheduled to go into place Oct. 15 on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

China’s Ministry of Commerce released a statement saying that “sincere, efficient and constructive discussions on economic and trade issues of both sides’ concerns were conducted,” and the two countries agreed to make joint efforts to achieve a final agreement.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says it is hopeful that this news signals tangible progress between the United States and China.

“However, we regard all things related to U.S.-China trade as tentative until details are released and a deal is signed by both parties,” IDFA says.

IDFA adds that the reported commitments by China to purchase $40-$50 billion in agricultural goods is a significant amount, considering China imported a then-record $26 billion of U.S. agricultural goods in 2012. No details are available yet on the potential benefits to dairy and other agricultural goods. IDFA reports that U.S. dairy export values to China have fallen 29% since 2013 to just more than $500 million in 2018, and have fought to $250 million through August of this year.

“IDFA will continue to monitor progress in U.S.-China talks,” the association says. “It is IDFA’s position that all trade deals, including a potential deal with China, should be comprehensive in nature based on a market- and rules-based system of international trade that is essential for the U.S. dairy industry.”


Stakeholders weigh in on U.S. tariffs against European Union

Oct. 18, 2019

WASHINGTON — Today $7.5 billion in U.S. tariffs against European products, approved last month by the World Trade Organization (WTO), took effect. (See “U.S. awarded $7.5 billion in tariffs against EU in dispute” in the Oct. 4, 2019, issue of Cheese Market News.)

“We regret the choice of the U.S. to move ahead with tariffs. This step leaves us no alternative but to follow through in due course with our own tariffs in the Boeing case, where the U.S. has been found in breach of WTO rules,” says EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

Following a bilateral meeting between President Trump and Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella earlier this week, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Chairman Randy Mooney wrote a letter urging the Trump administration to maintain its retaliatory tariff list against Europe, particularly those against Italian and other European cheeses.

In remarks preceding Wednesday’s meeting with Mattarella, Trump noted that they would discuss the tariffs against European products, including what percentage of the tariffs would be paid by Italy.

NMPF commended the Trump administration for including a number of European dairy products, particularly cheese, on the list of tariffs related to the U.S. case against European Airbus subsidies. The letter urges the administration to maintain these tariffs on cheeses, pointing out a wide trade imbalance and EU trade practices that largely block U.S. access.

“EU policies such as Italian-initiated bans on American-made parmesan, asiago and gorgonzola mean that they can ship us $1 billion in cheese each year while U.S. cheese exports to the EU clock in at $6 million,” Mooney says. “Dairy farmers are counting on the president to stand with them and resist Italy’s request that he side with the Italian farmers and cheesemakers who have blocked our own great cheeses from EU store shelves.”

Meanwhile, the American Cheese Society, Cheese Importers Association of America and Specialty Food Association joined dozens of other industry stakeholders in sending a letter this week to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, asking that all goods exported from Europe on Oct. 2 or earlier be exempt from the retaliatory tariffs scheduled to take effect today.

“By imposing tariffs beginning Oct. 18, 2019, the United States will be exacting new and unplanned costs on goods that were shipped from subject countries prior to Oct. 2, but which will arrive at U.S. ports after the tariffs take effect,” the letter says. “These new duties will not be borne by the EU producer or manufacturer of those now-dutiable goods, but by the American importers which have already purchased the products and, very quickly, by American consumers.”

The letter adds that the USTR made a similar accommodation earlier this year for goods impacted by List 3 tariffs on China, extending the deadline for entry from June 1 to June 15 for goods exported from China before May 10, the day the List 3 tariffs were announced.


Yancey’s Fancy launches its new cheese spread line with flavorful trio
Exact weight packages, updated labels also are rolling out

CORFU, N.Y. — Yancey’s Fancy Inc. has always focused on creativity. Brian Bailey, the company’s longtime head cheesemaker and CEO since spring 2018, is the creative mind behind many of Yancey’s Fancy’s well-known flavored cheeses. This year, the company has taken that creativity in a new direction: cheese spreads.

The bold flavored cheese spreads Yancey’s Fancy currently is rolling out are a natural extension of the flavorful cheeses the company already offers, Bailey says.

While steering the company toward new business goals is important to Bailey, leading a team of talented cheesemakers is the role he most relishes.
“We’re always looking for something different, me and my little team of mad scientists,” Bailey says with a chuckle.

Yancey’s Fancy natural cheese spreads are different from a lot of others on the market in that they are not cold pack cheese nor are they processed cheese.

“They’re not smooth and creamy. They’re not a dip. They’re chunky; they’re basically something I’d make for guests,” Bailey says.

The new cheese spreads are available in Buffalo Wing, which includes Yancey’s Fancy’s Buffalo Wing Cheddar and Castello Blue from Arla Foods; Horseradish & Scallion, which features Yancey’s Fancy’s Horseradish Cheddar; and Hatch Chile, made from Yancey’s Fancy’s Hatch Chile Cheddar and described by Bailey as “nice, sweet and a little zippy.”

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Cheesemakers innovate with mixed Blue cheese recipes

Oct. 11, 2019

By Trina La Susa

MADISON, Wis. — Several cheesemakers from around the country are incorporating Blue veining into their recipes for cheeses such as Gouda, Cheddar and Camembert. The result is unique, award-winning products such as Aldi Inc.’s Happy Farms Preferred Borgonzola, a soft cheese with Gorgonzola veining, which recently took first place in the soft cheese category at the 2019 World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest.

Not only do these hybrid cheeses create a milder taste and encourage wider appeal to consumers, they also serve as inspirations for other cheesemakers to stand out in the marketplace and continue to innovate with Blue cheese.

“When I re-opened my family’s cheese factory in 2006, I knew that we needed to make a niche of our own to survive the competitive cheese market,” says Chris Roelli, master cheesemaker, Roelli Cheese Co. Inc., Shullsburg, Wisconsin. “I have always been a fan of English farmhouse Cheddar and Stilton-style Blue cheese. After hearing that some English cheese shops would get a premium for Cheddar wheels that molded around cracks, I decided to try and combine the flavors purposely.”

What resulted was Roelli’s Dunbarton Blue, an English-style Cheddar with a slight Blue vein. Afterward came RedRock, an American-style Cheddar Blue. Both of these cheeses are made with the same style but have different flavors, says Roelli.

“Dunbarton would tend to be a more earthy Cheddar Blue,” Roelli says. “It is generally aged three to four months, so it develops some deeper earth tones from the natural mold rind. It also would be a little more salty and slightly drier than a traditional Cheddar. The Blue veins appear after we pierce the wheels to allow air to the center of the cheese.”

Roelli says he worked on the recipe for Dunbarton for more than a year as a Cheddar before adding the Blue mold. He modeled the Cheddar host to be similar to an English Cheddar. Growing up helping his family make commodity Cheddar, Roelli was very familiar with the process, and he says the culture blend was the most work to get right.

The company hand makes Cheddars with its milled curd cheese. Blue mold is a culture that is added at the start of the process and takes weeks to grow. The make process takes about six hours for each recipe, and Dunbarton is made using some proprietary equipment that develops the texture of the rind, Roelli says.

In contrast, Roelli describes RedRock as a more mild, creamy version of a Cheddar Blue. Annatto is used to give it an orange color, and the cheese is aged for 60 days. RedRock, like Dunbarton, also has a natural moldy rind.

Both Dunbarton and RedRock are sold to upscale cheese shops, restaurants and specialty grocery chains. Roelli says the cheeses generally do best in service counter cheese shops where employees can explain them and offer samples.

“I am pretty sure that about 30% of the population automatically assumes that they won’t like a cheese with a Blue vein,” Roelli says. “Mine are specifically made to taste more like Cheddar, with just a hint of the Blue flavor. Much of the overall Blue note is balanced out by the natural rinds.”

“I have heard them both described by cheese mongers as transitional Blues. They tend to appeal to a broader range of cheese buyers than a traditional heavy flavored Blue,” he adds.

Over the years, his cheeses also have been recognized in many competitions, including the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, the Wisconsin State Fair Dairy Products Contest and the American Cheese Society competition. Roelli says the hybrid aspect of the cheeses helps set them apart.

For Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, Austin, Kentucky, Gouda was the first cheese that it started making more than 20 years ago. After a visit to California’s Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., which is known for its Blue cheeses, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese was inspired to attempt a creamy Blue.

Using the Gouda recipe as a starting point, Kenny Mattingly Jr., owner and cheesemaker for Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, says the company experimented for a while until it had something worth showing — Bleu Gouda. He says the company learned to perfect the cheese through the development of the rind, the aging process, and by adding flavor cultures and salt to the curd.

“The base stays creamy, and we let the curd stay slightly more open than our regular Gouda to allow the tiny little crystalline delicious flecks of Blue migrate throughout the wheel,” Mattingly says.

A piercing process creates further Blue development and the wheels are aged for roughly 90 days in the company’s “Bleu cave,” where they are aged alongside Ted, Barren County Bleu, Kentucky Rose and Kentucky Bleu.

“We market our Bleu Gouda as an entry into the ‘Blue cheese world’ for those who are not as familiar with Blue cheese,” says Marissa Rago, office manager, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese.

Specialty foods retailer Murray’s Cheese based in New York City retails hybrid-style Blue cheeses, including Dunbarton Blue; Murray’s Cavemaster Stockinghall Reserve Blue, a Stockinghall Cheddar cow’s milk cheese marbled with Blue; and Cambozola Black Label, a Brie-style, cow’s milk cheese with a hint of Blue veining imported from Germany.

For marketing and positioning, Mackenzie Cash, manager at Murray’s Cheese Grand Central, says these cheeses are often treated as a more approachable type of Blue cheese.

The hybrid-style Blue cheeses live among the other Blue cheeses at the store. When customers ask about pairings for these cheeses, Cash says Murray’s will suggest standard Blue pairings, such as chocolate or honey.

“I think they appeal to Blue cheese lovers in that they are unique and stand out, but at the end of the day, I think these hybrid styles are definitely more broadly appealing and not necessarily for the Blue cheese connoisseur,” Cash says. “They’re what I consider our gateway Blues. They’ve got just enough funk, but not too much that it turns anti-Blue cheese people away.”


U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement will phase out cheese tariffs

Oct. 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — The United States and Japan on Monday signed the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, a deal with Japan that will provide increased market access for many U.S. agricultural products by either phasing out tariffs, enacting tariff reductions or allowing a specific quantity of imports at a lower duty. (See “U.S. -Japan trade negotiations yield tariff agreements on ag” in the Sept. 27, 2019, issue of Cheese Market News.)

President Trump and Prime Minister Abe have agreed that these early outcomes will be followed by further negotiations to address remaining areas of interest to each government. The United States and Japan will continue working to achieve a comprehensive trade agreement that results in a more fair and reciprocal trade and economic relationship, according to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

USTR notes that out of the $14.1 billion in U.S. food and agricultural products imported by Japan in 2018, $5.2 billion already was duty free. Under this initial tariff agreement, Japan will eliminate or reduce tariffs on an additional $7.2 billion of U.S. food and agricultural products. More than 90 percent of U.S. food and agricultural imports into Japan will either be duty free or receive preferential tariff access once the agreement is implemented.

Currently the United States exports more than $290 million worth of dairy products each year to Japan, its fifth-largest dairy export market. U.S. dairy exports to Japan face a competitive disadvantage, as major competitors such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the European Union receive preferential market access treatment under CPTPP and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement, USTR says.

Under the newly signed U.S.-Japan agreement, more than 80% of current U.S. dairy exports to Japan will obtain preferential tariff treatment. Japan’s tariffs of up to 40% on U.S. cheese will be eliminated in 15 years. This includes tariffs on cream cheese, pizza cheese, powdered and grated cheese, Cheddar and many other ripened cheeses. Additionally, Japan has established a 150-metric-ton U.S. country specific quota for processed cheese. Currently Japan imports about $156 million of U.S. cheese, comprising 54% of its total dairy imports from the United States in 2018.

U.S. whey exports to Japan, which totaled about $71 million in 2018, also will benefit from this agreement, USTR reports. Japan’s tariffs on whey for food use currently are as high as 29.8% plus 687 yen per kilogram (660.7% ad valorem equivalent). Under this agreement, Japan will create a single U.S. transitional country specific quota (CSQ) for U.S. whey products that will begin at 5,400 metric tons and grow to 9,000 metric tons. In-quota tariffs on most of these products will become duty-free immediately, while the remaining will be duty-free in five years. Over quota tariffs on most products will be eliminated in 5, 15 or 20 years, depending on the type of whey. Japan’s imports of U.S. whey products that will receive duty-free access were about 59 million in 2018.

Under this agreement, Japan will immediately eliminate its 8.5% tariffs on lactose and lactose syrup and its 2.9% tariff on milk albumin that includes whey proteins, which often are used in high-protein supplements. Japan’s imports of U.S. lactose, lactose syrup and milk albumin were worth more than $72 million in 2018. Additionally, Japan will establish a new 750-metric-ton global tender within its WTO quota for milk powder with protein content of 35% or higher.

Japan may apply two safeguards for whey products during the tariff transition period and for a limited period beyond. For years 1 through 4, the safeguard quantity is for U.S. product only. From years 5 until termination, the safeguard trigger is calculated as an aggregate of U.S. and CPTPP countries shipments. Japan also has agreed to consult to renegotiate the safeguard trigger volume if the safeguard is implemented in two years in a consecutive three-year period. The safeguard for whey powder could be terminated as early as year 16, while the safeguard on whey protein concentrate (WPC) could be terminated as early as year 22. The safeguard will not apply to whey products imported under the CSQ. Japan has committed to not apply the WPC safeguard in the event there is a domestic shortage of skim milk powder (SMP) in Japan and/or there is no demonstrable reduction in demand for SMP.

Other U.S. dairy products, such as butter and SMP, will continue to have access to Japan’s market under its WTO TRQs.
For more details on the agreement, visit


USDA increases 2019 Class III, Class IV price forecasts in report

Oct. 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — In its latest “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” report released Thursday, USDA increased its milk production forecasts for 2019 and 2020.

The 2019 forecast is raised by 200 million pounds from last month’s report to 218.2 billion pounds based on higher cow numbers and stronger growth in milk per cow. For 2020, expected continued gains in milk per cow supported a 400-million-pound increase in the milk production forecast to 221.6 billion pounds.

Annual forecasts of imports on both a fat and skim-solids basis in 2019, at 7.0 billion pounds and 5.9 billion pounds, respectively, are unchanged.

However, dairy import forecasts for 2020 are lowered as the recently announced additional tariffs on a number of European Union dairy products are expected to result in reduced imports. Fat-basis imports are now forecast at 6.5 billion pounds in 2020, down from 6.9 billion pounds in last month’s report, and the 2020 skim-solid import forecast is lowered by 100 million pounds to 5.5 billion pounds.

Fat-basis export forecasts for 2019 and 2020 are reduced from last month on continued competitive pressure on U.S. cheese exports, USDA continues. The department’s projection for fat-basis exports in 2019 is 9.0 billion pounds and 9.3 billion pounds in 2020.

The 2019 skim-solids basis export forecast is lowered to 40.0 billion pounds on weaker expected exports of cheese and skim and nonfat dry milk (SMP/NDM). However, increased strength in SMP/NDM sales in 2020 due to strong global demand is expected to more than offset continued weakness in cheese exports. As a result, the 2020 skim-solids basis export forecast is raised to 43.0 billion pounds.

For 2019, cheese and NDM price forecasts are raised from the previous month, but the price forecast for butter is reduced, while whey is unchanged.

The average 2019 Class III price forecast is up 10 cents from last month to $16.55 per hundredweight as the higher cheese price more than offsets the lower whey price; the Class IV price forecast is raised by 5 cents to $16.20 as the higher NDM price more than offsets the lower butter price.

For 2020, cheese and NDM prices are raised from the previous month, but the price forecast for butter is reduced. The whey price is unchanged. As a result, the 2020 Class III price forecast is higher at $17.20, but the Class IV price is lowered to $16.10, as the higher NDM price is more than offset by the lower butter price, USDA says.

The 2019 all-milk price is forecast higher at $18.40; for 2020 the price is unchanged at $18.85 per hundredweight.


Cheese production/packaging line to be live at Process Expo

Oct. 4, 2019

CHICAGO — Five working production lines, including a cheese production and packaging line, will be featured at Process Expo, Oct. 8-11 in Chicago.

In addition to the sliced cheese production/packaging line, a frozen pizza production/packaging line, a sliced pepperoni production/packaging line, a ground beef patty production/processing line and a pet food kibble production line will be featured.

The sliced cheese production/packaging line will produce a variety pack of cheese and include everything in the cheesemaking process from the separator and high-temperature/short time (HTST) processing to post-packaging inspection. The line is sponsored by Dairy Farmers of America.

“Having the live working production lines on a trade show floor is a wonderful opportunity for our attendees to see the newest technologies and how they work together, which is a unique program at Process Expo,” says Jarrod McCarroll, chairman of the Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA) and president of Weber Inc., one of the companies featured on the cheese line.

“This is the largest endeavor in which Process Expo has ever engaged,” McCarroll notes, adding this year’s production lines involve 32 equipment manufacturers, four food processors and several trade publications in support of the effort to highlight the latest in processing and packaging technology.

“The production lines are the perfect complement to the wide range of manufacturing solutions attendees will find on the Process Expo show floor,” adds David Seckman, president and CEO, FPSA. “These solutions are for all segments of the horizontal food and beverage industry and thus provide opportunities that food industry professionals won’t find at other industry events.”

Several companies are sponsoring the cheese processing/packaging line, and their equipment will be featured at various stages, including:

• Alfa Laval — Alfa Laval is a provider of specialized products and engineered solutions. The company’s portfolio includes complete aseptic packaging lines, high-speed separators, decanters, gasketed plate heat exchangers, centrifugal and positive displacement pumps, single-seat and mix proof valves and tank-cleaning equipment. The cheese line will feature Alfa Laval’s HTST technology.

• Anritsu Infivis — Anritsu Infivis offers X-ray inspection systems, checkweighers, metal detectors and combination systems that comply with stringent quality control programs. The cheese line will feature the company’s post packaging X-ray inspection technology and metal detector.

• Custom Fabricating & Repair (CFR) — CFR is an engineered equipment manufacturer and total solution provider for the dairy and food industries. It designs liquid and dry ingredient process systems with an emphasis on turnkey solutions. The company says it is ideally suited to provide processing solutions in cheese production. The cheese line will feature CFR’s cheese vat.

• Multivac — Multivac is a single-source supplier of packaging line equipment and materials and has expertise on global manufacturing with the localized support from its U.S. headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. The company’s single-service packaging system will be featured on the cheese line.

“Multivac is excited to feature our newest thermoform packaging machine, the RX 4.0, as part of the integrated dairy production line during the Process Expo,” says Marty Mothersbaugh, marketing coordinator, Multivac.

The RX 4.0 is a high-output packaging machine that supports the digitalization of packaging procedures and solutions of Industry 4.0, Mothersbaugh adds, noting the seamless digitalization, comprehensive sensor system and networking with the Multivac Cloud allow this machine to create a new dimension in packaging reliability, quality and performance.

• RELCO — RELCO has been providing process technologies to more than 500 cheese and dairy plants across the globe since 1982, including cheese systems and equipment, evaporators, drying systems and components, powder handling systems and equipment, and aftermarket solutions. The company will be featuring its curd pump and curd transfer system, as well as its block forming tower, on the cheese line.

“RELCO is pleased to be featured in Process Expo’s dairy product line. We will be showcasing our Curd Transfer System, TRU-BLOCK Blockformer, and TRU-FINISH Curd Table. Earlier this year, we also expanded our partnership with Innovative Dairy Systems out of New Zealand to increase our offering of draining, matting and cheddaring belts,” says Mark Litchfield, RELCO vice president of sales and marketing.

• Separators Inc. — Separators Inc. is the largest independent centrifuge service provider in North America, specializing in remanufacturing Alfa Laval, Tetra Pak and Westfalia centrifuge equipment.

Separators Inc. also offers a full array of startup, maintenance and repair services, and stocks more than 4,000 parts with 24/7 availability. The cheese line will feature a separator from the company — specifically, a remanufactured GEA MSE 300 separator, says Quenton Lind, vice president of sales and marketing, Separators Inc.

“We want to thank FPSA and DFA for asking us to be part of the dairy production line,” Lind says. “We continue to support FPSA and look forward to seeing our remanufactured separator as part of the entire production line.”

• Weber Inc. — Weber Inc. has been serving the slicing and automation market in the United States for more than 20 years. It offers full parts, service, sales and technical support out of its North American Technology Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
The company’s product line offerings include slicers, transport and handling equipment, robotics and packaging equipment, and its X-ray scanner, slicer and orienter will be featured on the cheese line at Process Expo.

Demonstrations will run three times daily from Oct. 8-10, and one additional demo has been added Oct. 11 due to the popularity of this show floor activity, FPSA says.

For a full schedule of the product line demonstrations, visit
Attendance at the production line demos is free of charge with Process Expo registration. For more information, visit


Consumer appetite for dairy fuels innovation, expansion

Oct. 4, 2019

Editor’s note: Plants in Progressis a special segment spotlighting new facilities and growth 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 going up around the country — from initial groundbreaking to full operation, and everything in between.

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — Despite the rise in alternative protein sources in recent years, U.S. consumers’ appetite for dairy products continues to grow, with per-capita consumption of dairy on a milk-equivalent, milkfat basis increasing by a pound from 2017 to 2018, according to USDA data.

To feed the need, U.S. dairy manufacturers continue to invest in innovation and expansion across the country.

From the “Crossroads of America” in Indiana to the Great Lakes of Michigan to the East and West coasts, stakeholders are coming together to invest in the future of dairy.

In fact, USDA recently announced it has awarded three projects a total of more than $1.3 million through 2019 Dairy Business Innovation Initiative Grants. This year, projects from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Tennessee and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets were awarded $454,392 each to support dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing and distribution of dairy products.

Please read on as we provide a snapshot of some of the projects in development across the United States in this latest installment of Plants in Progress ...

• BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Glenville, New York

BelGioioso Cheese earlier this year received final town approvals to go forward with construction of a $25 million cheese plant in the Glenville Business and Technology Park in Glenville, Schenectady County, New York. The plant is expected to create nearly 50 new jobs.

“We broke ground in April and work continues on the construction. We plan on being up and running within the next 12 months,” says Errico Auricchio, president, BelGioioso Cheese.

The Green Bay, Wisconsin-based company plans to manufacture specialty Italian cheeses at the 96,000-square-foot plant.

• Foremost Farms USA, Greenville, Michigan

Foremost Farms late last year completed the first phase of a multiyear endeavor — a 55,000-square-foot milk condensing facility in Greenville, Michigan.

The milk condensing plant has been up and running since November 2018, the company says. Processing 3.2 million pounds of raw milk daily, Greenville produces approximately 21 loads of reverse osmosis (RO) skim and six loads of cream each day to be used in Foremost Farms’ cheese and butter plants, as well as sales to outside customers.

Greenville uses reverse osmosis technology to concentrate skim milk solids after separation, the co-op says. The RO process results in a different percent of total solids from traditional condensed milk, which required Foremost Farms’ cheesemakers and others to work together on skim-solids integration.

“Currently the teams are working to maximize Phase 1 of the new state-of-the-art milk processing facility,” says Sydney Lindner, director of communications, Foremost Farms.

Co-op officials say they hope this investment will spur the development of a large-scale dairy processing campus over the next several years.

• Gem State Dairy Products LLC, Twin Falls, Idaho

Gem State Dairy Products LLC is planning to build an aseptic milk processing facility in Twin Falls, Idaho, in the coming months, providing new opportunities for Idaho’s dairy industry and creating more than 100 milk processing jobs by the end of 2020.

Tom Mikesell, spokesperson for Gem State Dairy Products LLC, says the 200,000-square-foot, vertically integrated bottling facility will be one of the newest and largest aseptic processing facilities in the country.

“The state-of-the-art facility will utilize the most current technology available to the market,” Mikesell says. “That will allow Gem State to provide its customers with high-quality and lower-cost alternatives for milk and dairy-based beverages.”

He adds that Gem State Dairy has made progress on engineering and design since the initial announcement last winter. The plant startup is still tracking the original schedule.

Gem State Dairy estimates that milk processing will begin in the summer of 2020.

• Golfo di Napoli Dairy, Warren, Indiana

Production began this summer at Golfo di Napoli Dairy, a 40,000-square-foot organic cheese plant in Warren, Indiana.
The newly-established venture is owned and operated by a team of fourth-generation cheese producers from Italy. The company invested $16 million over the past year to construct the plant, which utilizes USDA-certified organic milk from Fair Oaks Farms to produce Mozzarella, Burrata, Ricotta, Provolone and other pasta filata cheeses traditional to the Naples region.

“We chose Indiana because we believe that it is the perfect location to produce authentic Neapolitan Mozzarella, serving customers across the Midwest,” says Antonio Somma, president of Golfo di Napoli Dairy.

The plant currently has 25 employees.

• Great Lakes Cheese, Hiram, Ohio, and Wausau, Wisconsin

Great Lakes Cheese earlier this year 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 currently employs more than 650 employees in Ohio and expects to hire an additional 400 over the coming years as a result of these projects.

“Our company has called Ohio home since the beginning. It is only fitting that we make these significant investments in our infrastructure here,” says Dan Zagzebski, president and CEO, Great Lakes Cheese. “Our legacy of excellence is innately tied to this community and our many Ohio employee-owners.”

The new headquarters building will be constructed about 500 feet away from the existing plant in Hiram, expected to be complete in spring 2021, and the existing headquarters location eventually will be remodeled to become a new cafeteria and other amenities for plant employees.

Construction on the Hiram plant expansion has commenced on schedule, with the new expansion planned to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2020, Great Lakes Cheese says. Footers are being placed and steel placement is expected yet this year.

Great Lakes Cheese also has facilities in New York, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. The company recently completed construction of a new 180,000-square-foot cheesemaking facility in Wausau, Wisconsin, as well.

The Wausau facility began commercial production earlier this year, and the company plans to invest in another $40 million worth of equipment.

Great Lakes Cheese also has added 125 new employees at the Wausau site.

• Holmen Cheese LLC, Holmen, Wisconsin

The Planning Commission, Site Plan and Architectural Review (SPAR) Board and Village Board of Holmen, Wisconsin, recently approved plans for Holmen Cheese LLC, a new cheese plant to be located on a 12-acre parcel in the village’s Bluffview Business Park, north of Highway 35.

The company will utilize a newly custom-built state-of the-art 98,000-square-foot facility to produce dairy and plant-based cheese alternatives, cheese blends and processed cheeses for industrial, foodservice and retail markets.

The expectation is that approximately 59 new jobs will be created in the Holmen community once the plant opens, and up to 200 new jobs could be created over the next five years. The initial investment is expected to exceed $30 million in total, with an anticipated operational date of summer 2020.

• Idaho Milk Products, Jerome, Idaho

Idaho Milk Products recently celebrated the completion of a $30 million expansion and new research and development facility with a ribbon-cutting Sept. 20. Speakers included Idaho Milk Products’ CEO Daragh Maccabee; Rick Onaindia and Russell Visser, representing the owner group; City of Jerome, Idaho, Mayor Dave Davis; Jerome City Administrator Mike Williams; and Dr. Chenchaiah Marella, vice president of R&D, Idaho Milk products. Tours of the new R&D facility were available to the general public.

“We are very pleased to reach the end of a multi-faceted $30 million-plus project that has been ongoing for the last year,” Maccabee says. “We have increased our capacity by a third, invested in new equipment and automation, expanded our warehouse, upgraded our people facilities and made a step change commitment to innovation and product development. The various aspects of the project speak to all the things that we try to do better every day — maximizing our efficiency and throughput, striving to create and maintain a world class organization, being relevant to our customers and the markets we operate in, and all with sustainability in mind. All who contributed along the way can be proud of the achievements in the first decade and all of us here today are excited at the potential for the next one.”

With the expansion complete, Idaho Milk Products will be able to process an additional 1 million pounds of milk per day, resulting in a faster turnaround to keep up with customer demands.

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

Construction is underway on 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.

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 — is expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2020 at a cost of $470 million.

The new facility will process 8 million pounds of milk per day into a range of cheese (300 million pounds per year) and whey products for U.S. and international markets, employing approximately 250 staff when in full production. In addition, the partners confirm that an agreement has been reached with Proliant Dairy Ingredients to process whey permeate. Proliant will invest $85 million in an adjoining facility, creating up to 38 jobs.

• Richlands Creamery LLC, Blackstone, Virginia

Richlands Creamery’s new facility recently opened in Blackstone, Virginia. The new creamery is located at Richlands Dairy Farms, a commercial dairy and agritourism destination in Dinwiddie County, Virginia.

The $2 million project will add 17 new jobs over the next three years.

As part of the project, Richlands Creamery has committed to purchasing 100% of its agricultural inputs from Virginia farmers, says Coley Drinkwater, owner/marketing & sales, Richlands Creamery.

“So far, business is going well and we have had a promising start. We offer 24 flavors of ice cream in addition to whole milk, cream line (minimally pasteurize, non-homogenized) milk, whole chocolate milk and 2%,” Drinkwater says, noting the creamery currently is using about 7% of the milk from the farm and slowly growing its fluid milk wholesale accounts.

“We are in the process of getting a nutritional analysis done in order to wholesale ice cream and hope to have that in place by next summer,” Drinkwater adds. “In addition, our retail farm store is continually growing to include local produce, peanuts, honey and other local goods, and we expect our kitchen to start serving lunch in November.”

• Straus Family Creamery, Rohnert Park, California

As it marks its 25th anniversary this year, Straus Family Creamery recently announced that it will be moving its creamery from West Marin, California, to a new production facility in Rohnert Park, California, next year.

Straus Family Creamery plans to break ground on the project soon, with an anticipated completion date of spring 2020. The new 70,000-square-foot facility will have the capacity to almost double Straus’ current production of 16,000 gallons of milk per day. The company’s 300-cow Straus dairy farm will remain at its current location in Marin County.

Currently, Straus Family Creamery’s product line includes milk and cream in reusable glass bottles, yogurt, butter, sour cream, ice cream and a variety of wholesale and specialty dairy products that are distributed throughout the Western United States.

The company says the relocation will enable it to increase its production volume, leverage advancements in sustainable production processes and enhance employees’ quality of life with a shorter commute time.

“As we celebrate our 25th year in business, I am committed to continuing to honor the values that we instilled back in 1994,” says Albert Straus, founder/CEO and an organic dairy farmer. “I remain dedicated to the organic farming community, our climate-positive innovations and our support for independent family farming and rural communities.”

• Sweet Grass Dairy, Thomasville, Georgia

Sweet Grass Dairy recently broke ground on a new production facility in Thomasville, Georgia.

The 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.

“We are so excited about the ability to increase our production capacity of our handcrafted cheeses. For the last three years, we have been looking forward to telling the story of Southern cheeses and the special grass-based milk that is able to be produced in Georgia,” says Jessica Little, co-owner, Sweet Grass Dairy.

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, Little says.

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 says.

“Continuous improvement is something we focus on every day as a team,” adds fellow co-owner Jeremy Little. “This new facility provides an incredible opportunity for us to improve all of our products, and most importantly ... work on developing new ones.”

• University of Idaho-Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE), Moscow, Idaho

The University of Idaho is planning the largest research dairy in the United States, set to break ground in 2021.

The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) will be a demonstration farm and agro-tourism center to accompany the 2,000-cow dairy on the university campus.

“We wanted to locate it in the major milk-producing area of the state,” says Jim Miller, director of development, University of Idaho, noting about 75% of the state’s dairy cows are located in South Central Idaho, as well as many processors.

University of Idaho and Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA) are jointly purchasing 540 acres in Minidoka County near Rupert, Idaho, from members of the Whitesides family, who will in turn donate another parcel of land. The university will pay $2.5 million and IDA will pay $2 million toward the purchase.

IDA members first began working with University of Idaho on this project 15 years ago and dedicated funding to the project a decade ago, Miller notes. Since then, Idaho’s dairy industry has grown dramatically to rank third nationally in milk production.
The project consists of three parts:

• The core of CAFE is a 2,000-cow commercial scale dairy to be located in Rupert, Idaho. The site also consists of 1,200 additional acres for complementary agronomic research, feed production and nutrient management, Miller says.

• An Outreach and Education Center (OEC) is planned for Jerome, Idaho. Miller says the location provides the potential for the center to become a destination location for tourists and the general public while reinforcing the University of Idaho’s land grant mission.

• Finally, a food processing pilot plant is planned for Twin Falls, Idaho on the College of Southern Idaho campus. The plant will enhance the college’s existing workforce development and educational programs and serve as the location for food processing and safety research, Miller notes.

The project currently is in design and fundraising phases, with an anticipated completion date of 2023 for the OEC, and 2024 for the first cows milked at the dairy.

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

Following the approval of final project plans last year by the Wisconsin Building Commission and University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, a major construction project is underway at UW-Madison’s Babcock Hall. The project involves the renovation of the Babcock Hall Dairy Plant on its existing footprint, as well as a new, three-story addition for the Center for Dairy Research (CDR).

The new loading dock and milk receiving bay are nearing completion. The foundation for the new CDR addition is more than half complete and will be finished after the building’s ice builder is replaced.

The Babcock Hall Dairy Plant was closed Sept. 23 and will remain closed for the duration of construction. During this time, Babcock ice cream will be produced by a local dairy dessert manufacturer.

Funding for this project comes from donors, the state of Wisconsin and UW–Madison. Donors, primarily from Wisconsin’s cheese industry, raised more than $18 million to support the project.

Rebecca Blank, UW-Madison chancellor, says the facility will be one of the premier dairy education and research centers in the nation.

However, the project hit a roadblock earlier this year when vendor quotes for equipment and process piping came in more than $10 million over the original estimate.

At that point, at the suggestion of dairy industry partners, the university sought and hired a third party to review the project to determine if it can proceed as currently designed and sequenced.

The review was conducted by Hill International, a company that specializes in risk management. The company’s final report was recently received and is being reviewed. The results of this technical review will help inform project leaders’ decisions about timeline, phasing, scope and budget.

Despite the challenges, all parties have stated their full support for the project and a shared goal of delivering a project that will make the dairy industry proud. A project update meeting with relevant stakeholders including industry recently was held. Participants toured the site and heard an update from campus and state officials.

Meanwhile, earlier this year it was announced that up to 3,000 square feet within the CDR addition will be allocated for a new Beverage Innovation Center thanks to a $750,000 grant that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. awarded to CDR for beverage equipment and services. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is also providing a $250,000 grant to support the project.

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

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls Dairy Pilot Plant recently marked a milestone in its ongoing renovation project with the completion of a new, high-tech training room, used for the first time Aug. 22.

The total $4 million renovation project is set for completion in late spring 2020. The plant is expected to double in size to 6,000 square feet.

“The dairy processing industry relies on a skilled workforce, and we’re excited to bring enhanced learning opportunities to our members and their employees at UW-River Falls,” says John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), which has contributed $200,000 to the project.

UW-River Falls offers a Food Science and Technology major, as well as continuing education courses focused on pasteurization, cheesemaking and food safety, Umhoefer notes.

“High-quality, hands-on training is essential to the U.S. dairy industry’s competitive edge in a global marketplace,” he says. “We applaud the leadership team at UW-River Falls for its commitment to the dairy pilot plant renovation project, and WCMA is pleased to partner in continued fundraising efforts.”

• WNY Cheese Enterprise LLC, Pavilion, New York — Dairy Farmers of America, Arla Foods, Craigs Station Creamery

The WNY Cheese Enterprise LLC plant project has been completed and encompasses 29,000 square feet, including an 8,000-square-foot wastewater reclamation facility. The plant is at planned staffing levels, officials say.

The joint partnership is 70% owned by Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), 20% by Arla Foods and 10% by DFA’s eight farmer-owners of Craigs Station Creamery.

The WNY cheese facility produces premium New York Cheddar as well as the Craigs Creamery cheese brand, which launched earlier this year.

Craigs Creamery offers a variety of options, including Swiss, Mild/Medium/Sharp Cheddar and Muenster cheese, which are available in slices, shreds, chunks and snack bars.

The plant has the capacity to produce about 15.5 million pounds of cheese annually.


U.S. awarded $7.5 billion in tariffs against EU in dispute

Oct. 4, 2019

WASHINGTON — The World Trade Organization (WTO) this week awarded the United States $7.5 billion in annual tariffs against the European Union (EU) in its decision on a long-running dispute over EU subsidies to Airbus. This is the largest award in WTO history, nearly twice as much as the previous largest award, notes the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

“For years, Europe has been providing massive subsidies to Airbus that have seriously injured the U.S. aerospace industry and our workers. Finally, after 15 years of litigation, the WTO has confirmed that the United States is entitled to impose countermeasures in response to the EU’s illegal subsidies,” says USTR Robert Lighthizer.

The United States will begin applying the WTO-approved tariffs on certain EU goods, including several imported cheeses, beginning Oct. 18. Lighthizer says the United States expects to enter into negotiations with the EU aimed at resolving this issue in a way that will benefit U.S. workers.

USTR says the tariffs will be applied to a range of imports from EU member states, with the bulk of the tariffs being applied to imports from France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom — the four countries responsible for the illegal subsidies. Although USTR has the authority to apply a 100% tariff on affected products, at this time the tariff increases will be limited to 10% on large civil aircraft and 25% on agricultural and other products. USTR notes the United States has the authority to increase the tariffs at any time or change the products affected.

USTR will publish its definitive product list in an upcoming Federal Register notice. A final product list released Thursday for informational purposes lists a number of EU cheeses and other dairy products subject to additional 25% tariffs, including Swiss, Emmenthaler, Pecorino, Romano, Reggiano, Parmesan, Provolone, processed Gruyere, Blue-veined cheese and Stilton, as well as butter, yogurt and other cultured dairy.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) issued a statement supporting the WTO’s decision, adding that NMPF strongly endorses the USTR’s new list of European dairy exports that now will face higher tariffs. The retaliatory tariffs serve as a call for fair trade and an indication that there needs to be two-way trade, NMPF adds.

“The U.S. is running a $1.6 billion dairy trade deficit with Europe because of unfair EU trade practices that block our access to their market while they enjoy broad access to ours,” NMPF says. “Trade authorities should also address one particularly egregious example of EU trade practices: the EU’s abusing the use of geographical indications to limit competition from cheese exporters in the U.S. that use common food names. Rather than compete heat-to-head with high-quality American-made foods by allowing the use of common food names to coexist alongside GIs relating to those products, Europe instead blocks sales of these everyday food products from the United States and aggressively pressures other countries to do the same.”

Meanwhile, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström says application of countermeasures by the United States is “short-sighted and counterproductive,” given that the United States also has been found at fault by the WTO dispute settlement system for providing unlawful subsidies to Boeing aircraft.

“In the parallel Boeing case the EU will in some months equally be granted rights to impose countermeasures against the U.S. as a result of its continued failure to comply with WTO rules,” Malmström says, warning that the mutual imposition of countermeasures would inflict damage on businesses and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The European Commission has consistently communicated to the United States that the European Union is ready to work with them on a fair and balanced solution for our respective aircraft industries,” she says. “Our readiness to find a fair settlement remains unchanged. But if the U.S. decides to impose WTO authorized countermeasures, it will be pushing the EU into a situation where we will have no other option than to do the same.”

Mary Ledman, global dairy strategist for Rabobank’s RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness, notes that the latest product list includes 65 tariff codes for dairy, compared to 44 published in the preliminary list released earlier this year.

“Ireland is hit the hardest. Irish butter is hit particularly hard,” Ledman says, noting that butter comprises a large majority of the dairy products imported from Ireland.

However, she also notes that both Irish butter and Irish cheese imports to the United States through July 2019 have been running about 35 percent ahead of prior year numbers, indicating that sellers and importers of these products have been strategically front loading these products knowing that tariffs were likely to come.

In addition to Ireland, Italy will be greatly impacted by the new tariffs, which include many cheeses with geographic indicators as well as sheep’s milk cheesess, Ledman says.

“The U.S. trade office is sending a signal here,” she says. “With the specific cheeses and specific countries they targeted with this list, it is making a point that the U.S. wants agriculture included in the next EU-US trade negotiation.”

In a RaboResearch report Ledman authored earlier this year, she notes the amount of U.S. dairy exports to the EU is very small compared to EU products imported by the United States.

“In 2018, the U.S. imported more than 230,000 metric tons of EU-28 dairy products,” she says. “In contrast, the EU imported less than 23,000 metric tons of U.S. dairy products. In value terms, the EU exports more than US$1 billion of product to the U.S. market. Conversely, the U.S. dairy exports to the EU average slightly above US$100 million.”


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
October 18, 2019

Barrels: $2.0000 (NC)
Blocks: $1.9675 (-3 1/2)

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Cheese Production
U.S. Total August
1.111 bil. lbs.

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

Guest Columnist

Is aged cheese safe to consume by lactose intolerant individuals?

Dr. Mali Reddy, American Dairy and Food Consulting Laboratories and International Media and Cultures (IMAC Inc.)

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