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USDA announces next steps in efforts to bolster ag trade

November 24, 2023

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced next steps in USDA’s efforts to bolster U.S. agricultural trade, including the department’s planned trade missions for 2024 and the opening of a public comment period for the new Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP). These efforts will help to support further growth in U.S. agricultural exports and introduce high-quality U.S. agricultural products to new markets.

“Market diversification is an important tool for maximizing growth opportunities for U.S. agriculture, as well as hedging the risk of market contraction and general volatility in the global marketplace,” Vilsack says. “USDA is committed to promoting export opportunities in non-traditional markets and ensuring that U.S. agricultural commodities and products are available to diverse consumer groups around the world.”

In October, Vilsack announced that USDA will use $1.3 billion from the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) funds to establish RAPP to bolster and diversify U.S. agricultural export opportunities and strengthen support for specialty crop industries. This investment will enable American exporters to enter new markets and expand market share in current and growth markets. USDA published regulations for RAPP in the Nov. 17 Federal Register; the regulations will be open for public comment through Dec. 18 at

Continuing the work started under the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program, RAPP funding will ensure that U.S. agricultural industries are able to sustain the relationships key to effective market development and will enable exporters to break into new markets and increase market share in growth markets, USDA says. RAPP participants may receive assistance for either generic or brand promotion activities as well as assistance to conduct activities to address existing or potential non-tariff barriers to trade.

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service will administer the RAPP on behalf of the CCC. Specific program requirements and details for applying for assistance under the RAPP will be set forth in NOFOs announced through the website.

U.S. agricultural exports totaled a record $196 billion in 2022, following a record setting year in 2021. USDA export promotion programs support efforts to continue market expansion for U.S. food and agricultural products. These programs are just one tool that USDA utilizes to ensure market access. The department has tallied numerous trade policy wins during the Biden-Harris administration that provided new opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers, including:

• Vietnam opening its market for U.S. grapefruit exporters;

• India dropping the retaliatory tariffs on apples, chickpeas, lentils, almonds and walnuts. The Indian government also reduced tariffs for turkey, duck, blueberries and cranberries;

• Canada approving legislative recognition of U.S. biofuels, maintaining the largest and most dependable export market for U.S. ethanol and biodiesel;

• Mexico granting market access to U.S. potatoes following more than 20 years of engagement;

• Japan renegotiating beef safeguard levels under the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, reducing tariffs and generating growth opportunities for $150 million in beef exports; and,

• Brazil agreeing not to change import certification requirements, ensuring continued exports of U.S. milk, beef and seafood to this important market.

USDA plans to build on these successes and highlight export opportunities in additional markets through a robust agribusiness trade mission schedule next year, the agency says. USDA also will lead trade missions to the following markets in 2024:

• Seoul, Korea — Week of March 25, 2024;

• New Delhi, India — Week of April 22, 2024;

• Vancouver, Canada — Week of June 17, 2024;

• Bogota, Colombia — Week of July 29, 2024;

• Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (with buyers from Thailand) — Week of Sept. 9, 2024; and

• Casablanca, Morocco (with buyers from Senegal and Francophone, West Africa) — Week of Dec. 2, 2024

For more information about RAPP and agribusiness trade missions, visit


New survey’s top 2024 trends include grilled/cooked cheeses

November 24, 2023

WASHINGTON — The line between restaurant menus and home cooking is blurring, thanks to social media like TikTok where restaurant dishes become viral sensations and in the right culinary hands popular social “food fads” are translating to menus and limited time offers, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2024 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. The report’s insights are pulled from a survey of 1,500 culinary professionals nationwide — its largest to date — who identified incorporating social media as one of the top 10 hottest trends in 2024.

The survey uncovered several broader menu trends to watch for next year as well as specific dishes, ingredients, flavors and condiments that are set to become favorites among consumers. Among the trends are grilled/cooked cheeses, such as Provoleta, Queso Fundido, Raclette, Halloumi and Juustoleipa, the survey found.

Other top trends include world stage soups and stews (birria, chicken tom kha, laksa, salmorejo and upscale ramen); global chicken wings; international BBQ; incorporating social media trends; wagyu beef; stuffed vegetables (chiles en nogada, stuffed peppers and stuffed cabbage rolls); regional menus; streamlined menus; and hot honey breakfast sandwiches.

“This year’s trends are dominated by consumer craving for comfort and community with a healthy side of curiosity influenced by social media,” says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the association.

“Old favorites like BBQ are taking on new flavors, and social sharing is influencing the spread of regional fares like Nashville Hot. Even the chicken competition is going global on local menus.”

Across all the food categories, comfort foods ruled the day, with respondents pointing to soups and stews, stuffed vegetables and melty cheeses as next year’s hottest trends. In a sign of increasingly sophisticated preferences, natural flavors took center stage for alcoholic drinks, including botanicals like spices and herbs along with low-alcohol spirits, while drinks with perceived health and energy benefits led the way for non-alcoholic offerings.

The National Restaurant Association surveyed more than 1,500 culinary professionals in the United States from Oct. 9-23. For more information, visit


October production down 0.4% in major milk-producing states

November 24, 2023

WASHINGTON — Milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states in October totaled 17.94 billion pounds, down 0.4% from one year earlier, according to data released Monday from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). For the entire United States, October milk production was estimated at 18.71 billion pounds, down 0.5% from October 2022. (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart on page 15.)

NASS reports September’s revised production for the 24 major states totaled 17.48 billion pounds, an increase of 17 million pounds or less than 0.1% from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

October production per cow in the 24 major states averaged 2,013 pounds, 3 pounds less than October 2022 and 52 pounds less than September. For the entire United States, production per cow for October is estimated at 1,997 pounds, 1 pound less than October 2022 and 53 pounds less than September.

NASS reports the number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major states was 8.91 million head in October, 19,000 head less than October 2022 and 5,000 head less than September. In the entire United States, there were an estimated 9.37 million milk cows in October, down 42,000 head from October 2022 and down 6,000 head from September.

California led the nation’s milk production in October with 3.32 billion pounds, down 2.6% from a year earlier. Wisconsin followed with 2.69 billion pounds of milk produced in October, up 0.9% from October 2022.


Cheesemakers offer unique gifting opportunities with Advent calendars

MADISON, Wis. — Advent calendars have been a longtime staple during the countdown to Christmas, and more recently these have branched out to include surprises other than the traditional chocolate behind the doors — from kids’s toys to beer and wine, and more recently, cheese.

Discount retailer ALDI introduced its 2023 Advent Calendar lineup beginning Nov. 1, which includes more than 20 options, such as coffee, cat treats, Legos, hard cider and imported cheese. Its 12.7-ounce Emporium Selection Advent Cheese Calendar, priced starting at $16.99 while supplies last, includes bite-sized portions of Extra Mature Cheddar, Goat Cheese, Mature Gouda, Mimolette, Mustard Gouda, Smoky Cheddar, Black Pepper Gouda, Spiced Apple Cheddar, Sweet English Cheddar, Black Truffle Cheddar, Cheddar with Port Wine and Cheddar with Whiskey.

The ALDI cheese calendars sell out quickly, and this year’s edition currently is being offered by several sellers on eBay for up to $50 plus shipping and handling.

Murray’s Cheese also offered a collection of sample-sized cheeses from around the world in its “12 Days of Murray’s Cheese” calendar, which was $65 plus shipping, but already has sold out for the season. This collection included nine 3- to 5-ounce cheese selections from England, Italy, France, Spain and Ireland, as well as four Murray’s-exclusive jams and a package of Effie’s Oatcakes.

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Congress passes stopgap bill including farm bill extension

November 17, 2023

WASHINGTON — Dairy industry stakeholders this week lauded passage of a stopgap funding bill that includes a one-year extension of the farm bill by the House and Senate. The measure now heads to President Biden for his signature.

The bill would avert a government shutdown that would take effect if Congress were unable to pass a funding measure by midnight tonight. The legislation would extend funding for military construction, veterans benefits, transportation, housing, urban development, agriculture, FDA and energy and water programs through Jan. 19. Funding for all other federal operations, including defense, would expire Feb. 2.

Senate and House ag committee leaders Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., John Boozman, R-Ariz., Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., and David Scott, D-Ga., issued a statement following passage of a farm bill extension, noting Congress remains committed to passing a five-year farm bill in 2024.

“As negotiations on funding the government progress, we were able to come together to avoid a lapse in funding for critical agricultural programs and provide certainty to producers,” the lawmakers say. “This extension is in no way a substitute for passing a five-year farm bill, and we remain committed to working together to get it done next year.”

Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), notes the extension of the 2018 Farm Bill will allow important dairy-related programs to continue to operate until Sept. 30, 2024. The Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects — a dairy nutrition incentive program for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — will be eligible to receive additional appropriations to continue its significant expansion to reach more communities across the country in 2024. In addition, the farm bill extension permits USDA to restart the Dairy Forward Pricing Program as soon as the legislation is signed into law by the president, avoiding the need for a time-consuming rulemaking process similar to the one that was required to “restart” the program after it lapsed in 2018, Dykes says.

“While the bill gives Congress another year to pass a strong farm bill, it only keeps the lights on at USDA and FDA for another two months. IDFA urges Congress to pass a fiscal year 2024 funding bill that fully funds Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Projects, retains milk and dairy benefit levels for WIC moms and children, and maintains dairy’s central role in the federal school meals program,” Dykes adds.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew says NFU also is encouraged by the strong bipartisan support for an extension of the 2018 Farm Bill, but it urges Congress to channel that success toward getting a new farm bill done in a timely fashion.

“Family farmers and ranchers must have clarity about the status of farm programs to make informed planting and business decisions heading into the next growing season, and an extension accomplishes that in the short term. We will continue working to craft and pass a five-year farm bill that provides strong support for family farmers, ranchers and our communities,” Larew says.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), which earlier this week sent a letter to all members of Congress urging passage of the continuing resolution that included the farm bill extension, says AFBF is grateful Congress passed a farm bill extension to avoid serious program disruptions.

“We encourage President Biden to sign it. However, we urge both the House and Senate to stay focused on a new, modernized farm bill that recognizes the many changes and challenges of the past five years,” Duvall says.

“The current farm bill was written before the pandemic, before inflation spiked and before global unrest sent shock waves through the food system,” he continues. “We need programs that reflect today’s realities. So much work has been done by the agriculture committees in both the House and Senate over the past 18 months to prepare to craft a smart and effective farm bill. Congress must keep that momentum going. While an extension is necessary, they’re running out of time to write a new bill. We need a new farm bill in early 2024. The farm bill affects every American by helping to ensure a safe, stable and affordable food supply. Let’s make sure we get it right in 2024.”


Sen. Schumer calls for further action on milk carton shortage

November 17, 2023

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., this week called on USDA to take action on the national milk carton shortage hitting dairy farmers and schools in New York and states across the country. Schumer urged USDA to not only ensure New York dairy farmers have the technical support they need to get through the shortage, but also to work with industry leaders to devise creative solutions to get milk to school lunchrooms and to investigate the shortage to stop disruptions like this from happening in the future and minimize downstream impacts.

“Milk is an essential part of our students’ school lunches and the lifeblood of our Upstate New York agricultural economy, but with a national milk carton shortage looming over our schools, now is the time for the USDA to step up to ensure our farmers get more support to continue their essential work. That is why I am calling on the USDA to start to work with industry leaders to address this shortage we are seeing nationwide and provide all the leadership and technical support needed to help our dairy farmers,” Schumer says. “The USDA is uniquely positioned to investigate this problem from a national level and work with the dairy industry, our farmers and schools to mitigate the impacts of shortages and propose solutions.”

Schumer notes that while there is not a shortage of milk, there is a supply chain problem with the cardboard cartons, consequently inhibiting suppliers’ ability to provide milk to schools and other customers across the country. In school lunchrooms, milk is required to be served with every meal according to USDA nutrition standards. While schools currently are working with suppliers to figure out temporary solutions to ensure schools are receiving enough milk and students’ nutritional needs are being met, Schumer says now is the time for the USDA to work with industry and dairy farmers to find solutions. It is currently unclear how long the shortage could last, which is why Schumer says it’s imperative the USDA take immediate action and proactively work on the problem to ensure that farmers and dairy suppliers have the support and technical assistance needed to minimize the impacts of the shortage on their business and ensure milk can continue to be provided to schools across America.

“Given the potential downstream impacts of disruptions to the milk packaging supply chain, we also need the USDA to investigate the causes of this carton shortage to determine how we can avoid further disruptions to our dairy farmers and any further steps we can be taking to mitigate problems of this nature in the future,” Schumer adds.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently issued a memorandum to state and regional directors of child nutrition programs noting the agency is aware that schools in multiple states are experiencing milk supply chain challenges related to packaging issues. This memorandum provides state agencies with information about existing authority related to schools and other child nutrition program operators experiencing inadequate milk supply. FNS encourages state agencies to use this authority when needed to support program operators impacted by current milk packaging challenges.

Under current program regulations, state agencies may allow program operators experiencing milk supply shortages to serve meals during an emergency period with an alternate form of fluid milk or without fluid milk. Although program operators are expected to meet the fluid milk requirements to the greatest extent possible, supply chain disruptions, including disruptions that limit milk variety or affect serving size, would be considered a temporary emergency condition for purposes of this flexibility. Because this is an existing regulatory flexibility, a waiver is not required for state agencies to exercise this authority. (See “USDA will allow flexibilities for child nutrition programs facing milk supply shortages” in the Nov. 3, 2023, issue of Cheese Market News.)

John T. Gould, Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc. president and chairman of the board of directors, says the cooperative thanks Schumer for his support in recognizing the critical importance of milk in the nutritional needs of children and adults.

“We appreciate his efforts and concern in solving this packaging dilemma in a timely fashion. Our 260 dairy farm families are encouraged by our team’s efforts to continue to supply our milk to our school customers. It has required hard work, coordination and cooperation to meet their needs,” Gould says.


Prairie Farms’ Swiss receives Chairman’s Award at contest

November 17, 2023

ORLANDO, Fla. — Top winners were named at this week’s National Milk Producers Federation’s (NMPF) 2023 Cheese Contest at the organization’s annual meeting here. The Caves of Faribault Team at Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Faribault, Minnesota, received the contest’s Chairman’s Award for Cave Aged Rinded Swiss. Prairie Farms also received the Best Italian cheese recognition for its Pasteurized Blue Cheese.

The Reserve Chairman award went to Team Menomonie at Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Menomonie, Wisconsin, for Pepperoni with Marinara Rub. Best Cheddar went to the Tillamook Team at Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA), Tillamook, Oregon, for Makers Reserve Extra Sharp White Cheddar 2014; Best Cottage Cheese went to Kemps LLC/Dairy Farmers of America, Farmington, Minnesota, for Peach; and Best Yogurt went to Cabot Creamery Cooperative/Agri-Mark Inc., Cabot, Vermont, for Triple Cream Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt.
The top three finishers in each category at this year’s contest are:

• Mild Cheddar

First: Steve Voss, Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), Sanborn, Iowa, Mild
Second: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Middlebury, Vermont, Mild Cheddar M

Third: Justin Larson, Bongards’ Creameries, Perham, Minnesota, Mild Colored Cheddar

• Medium Cheddar

First: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Middlebury, Vermont, Medium Cheddar C

Second: Steve Voss, AMPI, Sanborn, Iowa, Medium

Third: Ankit Patel, Land O’Lakes Inc., Kiel, Wisconsin, Cheddar-Medium

• Sharp Cheddar

First: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Middlebury, Vermont, Sharp Cheddar C

Second: Timothy Stearns, Land O’Lakes Inc., Kiel, Wisconsin, Mild Cheddar-Sharp

Third: John Sigrist, AMPI, Blair, Wisconsin, Sharp

• Extra Sharp Cheddar

First: Tillamook Team, TCCA, Tillamook, Oregon, Makers Reserve Extra Sharp White Cheddar 2014

Second: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Middlebury, Vermont, Extra Sharp Cheddar M2

Third: Tillamook Team, TCCA, Tillamook, Oregon, English Style Sweet Cheddar

• Mozzarella

First: Hailey Boland, Foremost Farms USA, Richland Center, Wisconsin, LMPS 2

Second: Hailey Boland, Foremost Farms USA, Richland Center, Wisconsin, LMPS 5

Third: Hailey Boland, Foremost Farms USA, Richland Center, Wisconsin, LMPS 6

• Provolone

First: Bryan Allen, Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, Provolone Non-Smoked Lipase 4-inch RND (Vat #7)

Second: Bryan Allen, Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, Provolone Smoked Lipase 4-inch RND (Vat #6)

Third: Pat White, Foremost Farms USA, Appleton, Wisconsin, Provolone

• Hard and Mold-Ripened Italian

First: Prairie Farms/Caves of Faribault Team, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Faribault, Minnesota, Pasteurized Blue Cheese

Second: Team Mindoro, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Mindoro, Wisconsin, Heat Treated Gorgonzola

Third: Team Mindoro, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Mindoro, Wisconsin, Pasteurized Blue Cheese

• Natural

First: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Chateaugay, New York, Colby

Second: Team Menomonie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Menomonie, Wisconsin, Colby Jack

Third: Pat White, Foremost Farms USA, Appleton, Wisconsin, Muenster

• Swiss

First: Prairie Farms/Caves of Faribault Team, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Faribault, Minnesota, Cave Aged Rinded Swiss

Second: Luana Plant, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Luana, Iowa, Swiss

Third: Luana Plant, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Luana, Iowa, Baby Swiss

• Processed American Plain

First: Team Loaf, Land O’Lakes Inc., Spencer, Wisconsin, 48144
Reduced Sodium

Second: Team Loaf, Land O’Lakes Inc., Spencer, Wisconsin, 48300 Italian Blend

Third: Slice B-Shift, Bongards’ Creameries, Norwood Young America, Minnesota, Processed American Slice on Slice

• Processed American Flavored

First: Loaf Day-Shift, Bongards’ Creameries, Norwood Young America, Minnesota, Processed American Deli Loaf with Jalapeno Peppers

Second: Team New London, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, New London, Wisconsin, Flavored-Hot Pepper EZ Melt

Third: Team Loaf, Land O’Lakes Inc., Spencer, Wisconsin, 48364 LOL Hot Pepper

• Hot or Spicy Flavor

First: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Cabot, Vermont, Habanero Cheddar

Second: Team Menomonie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Menomonie, Wisconsin, Habanero Ghost Jack-HOT

Third: Dena Boiteau, AMPI, Jim Falls, Wisconsin, Pepper Jack

• Unique or Mild Flavor

First: Team Menomonie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Menomonie, Wisconsin, Pepperoni with Marinara Rub

Second: Team Menomonie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Menomonie, Wisconsin, Garden Vegetable with Sweet Basil Rub

Third: Team Menomonie, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Menomonie, Wisconsin, Roasted Garlic with Tomato Basil Rub

• Open Class

First: Luana Plant, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Luana, Iowa, Neufchatel

Second: Luana Plant, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Luana, Iowa, Cream Cheese

Third: Vermont Creamery, Land O’Lakes Inc., Websterville, Vermont, Mascarpone

• Reduced Fat

First: Bryan Allen, Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, Provolone Reduced Fat Smoked Lipase 4-inch RND (Vat #2)

Second: Bryan Allen, Foremost Farms USA, Clayton, Wisconsin, Provolone Reduced Fat Smoked Lipase 4-inch RND (Vat #3)

Third: Hailey Boland, Foremost Farms USA, Richland Center, Wisconsin, NCMZ 2

• Cottage Cheese

First: Quincy Team, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Quincy, Illinois, Small Curd 4%

Second: Hiland, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Chandler, Oklahoma, Regular Small Curd

Third: Darigold Issaquah Cheese Cooks, Northwest Dairy Association, Issaquah, Washington, Regular (4%) Small Curd

• Reduced Fat Cottage Cheese

First: Harold Eden, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Wichita, Kansas, 2% Small Curd

Second: Darigold Issaquah Cheese Cooks, Northwest Dairy Association, Issaquah, Washington, Reduced Fat (2%) Small Curd

Third: Aaron M, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, Small Curd 2%

• Flavored Cottage Cheese

First: Kemps LLC, Dairy Farmers of America, Farmington, Minnesota, Peach

Second: Darigold Issaquah Cheese Cooks, Northwest Dairy Association, Issaquah, Washington, Flavored-Pineapple Reduced Fat (2%) Small Curd

Third: Kemps LLC, Dairy Farmers of America, Farmington, Minnesota, Chive

• Natural Cheese Snack First: Team Ellsworth, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, Wisconsin, Dill Pickle Cheddar Cheese Curds

Second: Donovan Taylor, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Shullsburg, Wisconsin, Chipotle Cheddar Curd

Third: Burnett Dairy Team, Burnett Dairy Cooperative, Grantsburg, Wisconsin, Smoked String Cheese

• Processed Cheese Snack

First: Team Custom, Land O’Lakes Inc., Spencer, Wisconsin, 48238 Extra Melt with Peppers (PP)

Second: Team Custom, Land O’Lakes Inc., Spencer, Wisconsin, 39050 Extra Melt White (PP)

• Yogurt-Plain

First: Ruben Juan, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, Plain

Second: Howard Hughes, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Wichita, Kansas, Plain

• Yogurt-Flavored

First: Howard Hughes, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Wichita, Kansas, Lemon

Second: Ruben Juan, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Kansas City, Missouri, Flavored-Peach

Third: Howard Hughes, Prairie Farms Dairy Inc., Wichita, Kansas, Peach

• Yogurt-Greek Plain

First: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Cabot, Vermont, 10% Plain Greek Yogurt

Second: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Cabot, Vermont, 2% Plain Greek Yogurt

• Yogurt-Greek Flavored

First: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Cabot, Vermont, Triple Cream Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt

Second: Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Agri-Mark Inc., Cabot, Vermont, 2% Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Third: Upstate Farms, Upstate Niagara Cooperative Inc., West Seneca, New York, Greek Non-Fat Vanilla.


CoBank: Shifting consumer demand fuels butterfat boom

November 10, 2023

DENVER — The long-term demand trends for dairy products indicate butter, cheese and other full-fat dairy foods will continue to grow in sales and volume for the foreseeable future, says a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange.

The report notes U.S. consumers have shifted away from margarine and reduced-fat dairy foods over the last decade as nutritional science surrounding saturated fats has evolved. As a result, butterfat levels in the national milk supply have risen sharply in response to changing demand patterns and dairy market dynamics.

According to the report, the butterfat boom will continue as the entire dairy supply chain is capturing additional value from milk with higher fat and protein levels. The economic incentives for a supermajority of the nation’s dairy farmers are firmly in place to produce milk with more butterfat.

“Despite the significant growth in domestic butterfat production over the last decade, there is still tremendous upside potential, largely because the U.S. remains a milkfat-deficit nation,” says Corey Geiger, lead dairy economist with CoBank. “Butter imports into the U.S. have skyrocketed over the last decade to meet the surging domestic demand for full-fat dairy products. Also, due to strong domestic demand, the U.S. barely exports any of its butterfat. As a result, lowfat, skim-solids product exports far outpace full-butterfat products.”

Full-fat dairy and other animal products fell out of favor beginning in the 1970s over reported health concerns. However, nutrition research in the past 15 years suggests full-fat dairy has a much more nuanced role — and potentially protective effect — on health. Consumers responded to the evolving science quickly, triggering what has proven to be a long-term shift to previously tabooed dairy foods like butter, CoBank says.

There was a time when U.S. milk and butterfat production were synonymous, the report notes. When measured by pounds, milk and butterfat production mirrored one another from 1995-2010, each growing a collective 24%. But milk and butterfat production have since decoupled. From 2011-2022, milk pounds shipped from U.S. farms grew 15%; however, butterfat pounds shipped from those same farms grew 27%.

Dairy producers have steadily increased butterfat content levels in milk through innovations in feeding programs and the use of genomic testing programs. Genomic tests can reveal 70% of the genetic ability of a young calf years before it becomes a milk cow. The science has expedited genetic gains in the U.S. dairy cow herd and dramatically shifted butterfat composition in recent years.

Geiger says the overall market picture for butterfat is quite clear, with tremendous growth potential both domestically and ultimately via the export market.

“The reality is that consumers are eating rather than drinking their dairy these days,” he says. “And they are increasingly favoring full-fat dairy foods over reduced-fat options. That means continued innovation in things like premium butter, butter spreads and further development in the butter board phenomenon will bring value to producers, processors and consumers alike.”


September U.S. dairy exports down eighth month in a row

November 10, 2023

WASHINGTON — U.S. dairy product exports in September totaled 185,625 metric tons, down 11.1% from one year earlier (down 12% on a milk solids equivalent basis), according to the latest export data reported by the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). In it U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog, USDEC notes that it was the eighth consecutive month of decline, dating back to February this year. USDEC also reports September export value fell 25% to $603 million, the lowest monthly total since January 2022.

“Trends that have been keeping overall U.S. exports in check for most of the year remain largely unchanged,” USDEC says in is blog. “U.S. suppliers continue to face strong demand headwinds from tepid global economic growth, elevated inflation and, in the case of low-protein whey, China’s struggling pork sector (though that has improved of late). While global milk supply growth has slowed, competition from New Zealand and the EU remains tougher than it has been in recent years.”

U.S. nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) exports in September totaled 53,256 metric tons, down 20.1% from a year earlier, and this category’s worst month of 2023, USDEC reports. Year-over-year U.S. exports to Mexico were down 16%, while export volume to Southeast Asia fell 38%.

U.S. exports of low-protein whey (0404.10) totaled 40,282 metric tons in September, down 24.7% from a year earlier. USDEC reports China continued to drag down these sales, which fell 39% compared to last year, with across-the-board double-digit declines in dry, whey protein concentrate (less than 80%) and modified whey and permeate. U.S. suppliers also saw smaller declines to Mexico (-24%) and Canada (-28%), USDEC says.

Meanwhile, U.S. cheese exports rose in September as global cheese demand has proven resilient, USDEC reports. September cheese exports totaled 36,883 metric tons, up 4.3% year-over-year, with shipments to Mexico up 26% and cheese sales to China up more than four-fold. USDEC reports U.S. suppliers also posted strong gains to Southeast Asia (+54%), Central America (+10%) and the Caribbean (+9%).
Another bright spot in September was whey protein concentrate 80% (WPC80+), USDEC reports, where exports totaled 7,356 metric tons, up 40.4% from a year earlier.

“On top of the positive cheese story, the increasingly global nutritional appeal of high-protein foods and beverages, coupled with favorable pricing of high-protein whey, drove WPC80+ demand to an all-time high,” USDEC says in its blog, adding that U.S. WPC80+ exports to Japan more than doubled, while volume to China more than tripled.

For more of the latest U.S. dairy export data, visit


September cheese production slightly up from one year ago

November 10, 2023

WASHINGTON — Production of U.S. cheese in September, excluding cottage cheese, totaled 1.152 billion pounds, up 0.1% from the 1.151 billion pounds of cheese produced in September 2022, according to data released this week by USDA’s Natural Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Dairy Production chart.) September cheese production was down 0.3% from the 1.157 billion pounds produced in August, but up 3.0% from August on an average daily basis.

Italian-type cheese production in September totaled 479.5 million pounds, down 3.4% from September 2022. Production of Mozzarella, the largest component of Italian-type cheese production, totaled 380.5 million pounds in September, down 1.3% from a year earlier.

American-type cheese production in September totaled 465.8 million pounds, up 4.2% from September 2022. Production of Cheddar, the largest component of American-type cheese, totaled 314.6 million pounds, up 3.1% from September 2022.

Wisconsin was the leading cheese-producing state with 285.6 million pounds produced in September, down 2.5% from September 2022. California followed with 202.9 million pounds produced in September,up 4.9% from a year earlier.

U.S. production of butter totaled 144.6 million pounds in September, up 2.9% from September 2022. September butter production was up 3.3% from August’s 140.0 million pounds and up 6.7% from August on an average daily basis. California was the leading butter-producing state with 48.5 million pounds produced in September, up 1.5% from September 2022.


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
Nov. 28, 2023

Barrels: $1.4275 (-4 1/4)
Blocks: $1.6100 (NC)

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Cheese Production
U.S. Total Sept.
1.152 bil. lbs.

Milk Production
U.S. Total Oct.
18.710 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Thank you. I’m proud of what we’ve done for our industry

Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation

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