August market report

We’re in the thick of the summer doldrums. It’s expected during these mid-summer weeks that dairy markets do not move much. And they haven’t. But the doldrums don’t mean there’s nothing interesting going on. Dairy industry observers are intrigued by notably sluggish retail and consumer cheese sales even though summertime usually means those sales should be peaking.

Natural cheese sales have flattened. Processed cheese sales are declining. Restaurants haven’t had a good month since early last year. Americans are saving more. Those insights point to a possible trend affecting the entire American economy: Consumers are holding onto cash instead of spending it on meals out or at the grocery store.

Lackluster cheese sales

Right now, the top story in the industry is sluggish cheese sales at a time when that market usually sees a seasonal spike.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

  • Retail natural cheese sales are slowing. 12-month sales are up more than two percent, but in the last few months sales have gone flat.
  • Retail processed cheese sales have fallen over 4.5 percent in the last two to three months, even faster than the 3.5-percent decline reported over the last 12 months.

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