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Hottest Summer Ever Tightens U.S. Milk Supply

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. just suffered its hottest summer ever. Soaring temperatures weighed on milk yields and tightened supplies as heat stress accumulated late in the summer and into September.

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The Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction kicked things off with bang and all products gained significant ground. Cheesemakers are running at their usual pace, as long as they can find the staff to do so and demand remains healthy.

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CME spot butter jumped 9ȼ this week. July butter production fell 0.8% short of the frantic pace of July 2020, but was still historically high. There is plenty of butter socked away to last through the fall and holiday baking season.

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Heat, humidity, and smoke are sapping milk yields around the nation. Higher Class I sales from coast to coast, coupled with sweltering temperatures, has tightened milk supplies noticeably. Meanwhile, students are back in school and all are eligible for free lunches with a carton of milk on the side.

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There is an abundance of milk in both the United States and Europe, but momentum is slowing. The combination of summer temperatures and back-to-school demand has tightened milk supplies noticeably.

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The spot Cheddar block market found the gas pedal this week, moving convincingly upward. Spot block prices closed higher than the previous session on four out of the week’s five trading days. Yet, as cheese prices moved up at the CME this week, dry whey prices moved down.

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Even as cheese production has slowed, balancing operations continue to press forward at a steady clip. Dryers have also continued to run solidly, absorbing available condensed skim. As a result, supplies of nonfat dry milk (NDM) are plentiful but demand from both domestic and international sources has kept tension in the market. Milk production continues to dissipate seasonally but volumes remain plentiful overall.

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Although this year’s losses have none of last year’s frenzy, the ink is just as red. But it may be a while before lower prices translate to less milk.

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While US milk output is down from the peak volumes reported in April and May, it is still historically strong. USDA’s Dairy Market News cites strong demand for cheese across the nation but butter and powder orders begin to soften. Weather and Washington way heavy on demand of corn and soybean crops.

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Manufacturers report that cheese demand is robust and that spot milk for manufacturing is available and affordable. While cheese manufacturers would be keen to capitalize on the available milk, a plethora of issues are complicating operations and preventing additional output.

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USDA’s Dairy Market News reports that domestic cheese demand is “healthy”. Exporters are busy moving product they contracted to sell last month when prices were lower, which tightens the supply of fresh cheese available for sale in Chicago.

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