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Industry touts dairy’s benefits
at meeting on DGAC report

March 27, 2015

WASHINGTON — Dairy industry stakeholders touted the benefits of dairy in a balanced diet and said clear messaging is needed in dietary recommendations at a meeting Tuesday on the recently-released Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC).

USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) held the meeting this week in Bethesda, Md., to hear oral comments on the report, which was released last month and is used to aid the federal government in developing national nutrition policy when it releases the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, expected later this year. (See “New DGAC report notes health benefits associated with dairy” in the Feb. 20, 2015, issue of Cheese Market News.)

• Dairy in the diet

Michelle Matto, nutrition and labeling consultant for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), presented oral comments at Tuesday’s meeting on behalf of IDFA.

Matto notes IDFA agrees with the DGAC report’s conclusions that “the vast majority of the U.S. population does not meet recommended intakes for ... dairy food(s).” The report also states that milk, yogurt and other dairy foods provide three of the nutrients of concern — calcium, vitamin D and potassium — and that consumption of dairy is associated with lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, she says.

“We therefore believe that it’s vitally important that the Dietary Guidelines maintain its emphasis on the importance of consuming three servings of dairy every day,” Matto says.

Beth Briczinski, vice president of dairy foods and nutrition for the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), also spoke at the meeting, noting that dairy has nine essential nutrients, and as a source of three of the four nutrients of concern identified in the DGAC report, it is extremely difficult to replace in the diet.

For example, the DGAC reported that when it modeled a “no-dairy” diet, intake of several key nutrients fell below adequate levels, specifically with calcium dropping by up to 88 percent, Briczinski notes.

Even foods that are sometimes seen as “substitutes” for dairy can’t compare to real dairy products, Briczinski adds. The DGAC wrote that although soy, rice or almond beverages can be fortified with calcium, its absorption is less efficient from plant-based beverages. The report also noted that to actually absorb the same amount of calcium, one has to consume more calories, even though what most Americans need is to consume fewer calories.

“The number of servings of other foods that would be required to replace dairy’s unique total nutrient package, as well as the cost of those foods, make it unlikely that people who forgo dairy will actually obtain an equivalent nutrient intake,” Briczinski says.

Matto says the Dietary Guidelines should encourage consumption of nutrient-dense foods, like milk, yogurt and cheese, including those that contain some added sugars, sodium or saturated fat.

“Milk’s important contribution to the diet was highlighted when the report compared eating plans that include milk and those where milk has been replaced with other beverages — diets without the milk were lower in a number of essential nutrients,” she notes.

Processors of all dairy products, including fluid milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream, have expended significant resources working to improve the nutrient profile of these products while maintaining products that are enjoyed by consumers and still function in the way that they expect, Matto adds.

“Milk, yogurt and ice cream manufacturers have lowered the fat and sugars in their products,” she says. “Cheesemakers have reduced fat and sodium. There are a wide variety of dairy products that can meet the nutritional and lifestyle needs of all Americans.”

• Clear messaging

Matto notes that while the DGAC report makes a number of recommendations for improving the diets of Americans, the significant job remains to translate these findings into actionable, positive messages that individuals and families can use to guide their everyday food choices.

“We urge the agencies to adopt clear messages that people can use when planning meals or shopping the grocery store, such as, ‘Select three servings of dairy each day,’” Matto says. “We believe messages such as these will help Americans make better food choices and move toward healthier eating patterns.”

Briczinski also says simple, understandable, actionable messages are needed in order for the Dietary Guidelines to motivate real dietary improvements for consumers when they plan meals or make food choices.

“Most Americans would certainly benefit by adding one more serving of nutrient-dense dairy foods each day,” she says. “This would go a long way toward improving essential nutrient intakes and toward educating consumers about the simple steps they can take to achieve better diets and better health.”

IDFA and NMPF also plan to file written comments on the report. The public may view the report and provide written comments at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. The deadline for written comments has been extended to May 8.

• The sustainability debate

Meanwhile, some controversy has surfaced related to the DGAC’s recommendations in the report related to sustainability. DGAC says Americans should consider the environmental impacts of the foods they eat, with implications that some items, particularly animal-based products, are less desirable because their production carries a heavier carbon footprint and other alleged negative ramifications.

In a March column from Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO, on the organization’s website, he notes that this finding is a tough one to swallow because what constitutes “sustainable” is a hard thing to measure, and the committee cited no sound science upon which they based their recommendations.

“The claim that some foods aren’t as sustainable as others is less sound than the claims against cholesterol were almost 40 years ago,” Mulhern says. “Meat, and indeed, all food groups, need to be assessed not just for their caloric or environmental impact, but for their overall nutrient profile.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which also provided oral comments at Tuesday’s meeting, says the DGAC went beyond its congressionally mandated scope and was not constituted with the expertise to address topics such as sustainability, ingredient safety and policies for behavior change in the report.
However, some groups say DGAC has the science to back up a push for more sustainability considerations in the guidelines.
This week a coalition of more than 100 groups ­— including the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy — took out full-page ads in the New York Times, Washington Post and Politico displaying an open letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell calling on the secretaries to keep the sustainability concepts firmly rooted in the final guidelines.
“The recommendations have caused quite a stir because they consider sustainability issues,” says Doug Boucher, director of the Tropical Forests and Climate Initiative for UCS, a nonprofit science advocacy organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that provided comments the DGAC meeting.
Boucher says this is “surprising” since the 2010 DGAC suggested that the 2015 DGAC look at sustainable agriculture and aquaculture practices to ensure that the recommended amounts of healthy foods are available for all.
“Sustainability is not the only area where past and current committees have explored beyond the narrow definition of diet and nutrition,” he says. “Furthermore, sustainability and nutrition go hand in hand. Generally, diets that are better for our health are also better for the planet.”

CMN

 


Kraft, Heinz sign agreement
to form The Kraft Heinz Co.

March 27, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Ill. — Kraft Foods Group Inc. and H.J. Heinz Co. this week announced they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create The Kraft Heinz Co., forming the third-largest food and beverage company in North America and the fifth-largest in the world. Under the terms of the agreement, Kraft shareholders will own a 49-percent stake in the combined company, and current Heinz shareholders will own 51 percent on a fully-diluted basis. The transaction, which is subject to approval by Kraft shareholders, receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the second half of 2015.

When the transaction closes, Alex Behring, chairman of Heinz and managing partner at 3G Capital, will become chairman of The Kraft Heinz Co. John Cahill, Kraft chairman and CEO, will become vice chairman and chair of a newly-formed operations and strategy committee of the board of directors. Bernardo Hees, CEO of Heinz, will be appointed CEO of The Kraft Heinz Co. The new executive team for the combined global company will be announced during the transition period. The Kraft Heinz Co. will be co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and the Chicago area.

The combination of these companies brings together two portfolios of well-known brands. Among Kraft’s brands are Kraft, Philadelphia, Velveeta, Oscar Mayer, Lunchables, Jell-O, Maxwell House and Planters. Heinz products include Heinz Ketchup, sauces, soups, beans, pasta and infant foods, as well as Ore-Ida potato products, Weight Watchers Smart Ones entrées, T.G.I. Friday’s snacks and Plasmon infant nutrition. Together the new company will have eight $1 billion-plus brands and five brands between $500 million and $1 billion.

“Together we will have some of the most respected, recognized and storied brands in the global food industry, and together we will create an even brighter future,” Cahill says. “This combination offers significant cash value to our shareholders and the opportunity to be investors in a company very well positioned for growth, especially outside the United States, as we bring Kraft’s iconic brands to international markets. We look forward to uniting with Heinz in what will be an exciting new chapter ahead.”

Kraft shareholders will receive stock in the combined company and a special cash dividend of $16.50 per share. The aggregate special dividend payment of approximately $10 billion is being fully funded by an equity contribution by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital. The special cash dividend payment represents 27 percent of Kraft’s closing price as of March 24, 2015.

“I am delighted to play a part in bringing these two winning companies and their iconic brands together,” says Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, which together with 3G Capital acquired H.J. Heinz Co. in 2013. “This is my kind of transaction, uniting two world-class organizations and delivering shareholder value. I’m excited by the opportunities for what this new combined organization will achieve.”

Hees notes that over the past two years, Heinz has become “one of the most efficient and profitable food companies in the world” while reinvesting in its key brands and continuing its commitment to quality and innovation.

“We are thrilled about the unique opportunities this merger will create for our consumers worldwide, as well as our employees and business partners,” Hees says. “Together, Heinz and Kraft will be able to achieve rapid expansion while delivering the quality, brands and products that our consumers love.”

CMN


Lawmakers reintroduce bill
on GMO labeling standards

March 27, 2015

WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., on Wednesday reintroduced The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, designed to create a national, science-based labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The bill is supported by nine Republicans and eight Democrats. Pompeo introduced a previous version of the bill in the House last spring.

Without the reforms in this legislation, the representatives say a patchwork of state GMO labeling laws could mislead consumers and increase food prices. This bill preserves and affirms the FDA’s role in food safety while ensuring that all Americans’ desire to know what’s in their food is respected, they say. This legislation also includes a new provision to allow those who wish to label their products as GMO-free to do so through a USDA-accredited certification process.

“We took the positive feedback we received after our hearing in December and have been meeting with key stakeholders to ensure this is the right policy for both producers and consumers,” Pompeo says. “Our goal for this legislation remains to provide clarity and transparency in food labeling, support innovation and keep food affordable.”

Industry organizations praised the introduction of this bill.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says the bill will ensure labeling decisions are established by science-based, uniform standards that are consistent in every grocery store across the United States. The organization adds that GMOs have been found to be safe by nearly 2,000 studies from leading scientific bodies, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association.

“To enable the free flow of interstate commerce and more easily provide consumers with the information they are looking for, it is essential that we have a federal system of labeling laws rather than a state-by-state approach,” says Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO.

“We believe it is important for companies to be able to exercise their constitutional right to free speech and to avoid laws that would require labeling of things that have no health or safety consequences,” Tipton adds.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) notes that currently, up to 80 percent of the food available in the United States contains genetically modified ingredients. NMPF says the bill would improve clarity in foods carrying a GMO-free label by establishing uniform rules and a national certification program.

“Due to the complexity of the American food chain, state-by-state labeling is not an option,” says Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF. “The additional costs would be passed on to consumers, and mainly family-run businesses, including dairy farms, would be unable to navigate these new hurdles.”

Grocery Manufacturers Association President and CEO Pamela G. Bailey says a federal law is needed that keeps the authority to set safe, reasonable and national labeling requirements regarding GMOs with U.S. government agencies that have scientific and regulatory expertise in this area.

“A single federal labeling standard for non-GMO and GMOs that is based on science would ensure that America’s farmers and food manufacturers work under a uniform standard across all 50 states and that consumers receive uniform, consistent information on GMOs,” Bailey says. “The alternative — a patchwork of state and local food laws across the country with different labeling mandates and requirements — will create confusion, cause significant new costs for Americans, and lead to critical problems for our nation’s grocery supply chain.”

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, says state labeling initiatives mask the benefits of biotechnology in food production and can lead to decreased food supplies.

“Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food, but they shouldn’t be misinformed about what’s safe or forced to pay higher prices unnecessarily,” Stallman says. “Thanks to innovation, farmers and ranchers have new and improved methods to increase their efficiency while preserving farm land for generations to come. Farmers benefit from choice and so should consumers.”

The introduction of The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act came a day after the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing examining the costs and impacts of mandatory biotechnology labeling laws. Among witnesses at the hearing were Vermont farmer Joanna Lidback, who testified on behalf of Agri-Mark Dairy Cooperative, and Chris Policinski, president and CEO, Land O’Lakes Inc.

Lidback told the committee’s members that attempts at mandatory labeling of foods derived from GMO processes are aimed at arbitrarily limiting choices for both farmers and consumers.

Consumers, she says, have a right to know “that the meals they serve at the family dining table every night are safe and nutritious. But a very small percentage of the population should not be able to impose their personal, non-science based food preferences on the rest of us — prompting food prices to increase and driving farms like mine out of business.”

She added that a patchwork of state laws, whereby some states such as Vermont impose labeling requirements that neighboring states do not, would raise questions “about whether or not the product is the same.”

Policinski testified that some are working in states to pass laws mandating the labeling of GMO foods. He says mandating GMO labeling runs contrary to the essential purpose of government-mandated labeling, which is to provide consumers with accurate and relevant information regarding the safety of the food they eat.

“Every major health and regulatory organization has found that GMOs are as safe as any other food and as such do not require any special labeling,” he says. “Mandated GMO labeling is an effort to stigmatize a form of technology and attempt to drive it out of the marketplace.”

CMN


Natural cheese in cold storage
up 5 percent in Feb.

March 27, 2015

WASHINGTON — Total natural cheese in U.S. cold storage was 1.064 billion pounds as of Feb. 28, 2015, up 5 percent from February 2014’s 1.010 billion pounds and up 2 percent from Jan. 31, 2015’s 1.045 billion pounds, according to data released by USDA’s Natural Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) this week.

Natural American cheese in cold storage as of Feb. 28, 2015, was 643.1 million pounds, according to NASS, up 2 percent from February 2014’s 628.7 million pounds and up 1 percent from the 633.8 million pounds in cold storage as of Jan. 31, 2015.

Swiss cheese in cold storage totaled 23.7 million pounds as of Feb. 28, 2015, down 12 percent from February 2014’s 26.9 million pounds but up 6 percent from January 2015’s 22.4 million pounds.

Other natural cheese in cold storage totaled 397.2 million pounds as of Feb. 28, 2015, up 12 percent from Feb. 28, 2014’s 354.5 million pounds and up 2 percent from Jan. 31, 2015’s 388.8 million pounds.

NASS says butter in cold storage totaled 178.2 million pounds as of Feb. 28, 2015, 4 percent more than Feb. 28, 2014’s 171.8 million pounds and up 20 percent from the 148.9 million pounds reported to be in cold storage at the end of January 2015.

CMN


Norseland capitalizes on snacking trend with its Jarlsberg ‘minis’
More snack-sized products in the works for 2015

By Kate Sander

DARIEN, Conn. — As consumers continue to look for ways to pack protein and flavor into snack time, Norseland Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Norway-based TINE S.A., is giving them options with “minis” — cheeses that pack the same nutrition and flavor as their larger counterparts but come in single serve-sized packaging.

Last year, Norseland launched its flagship product — Jarlsberg — in a mini form with great success, says Debbie Seife, general manager of marketing at Norseland.

Jarlsberg brand cheese — with its mild, mellow and nutty flavor — has a loyal consumer following. For years it has been available in the specialty cheese case, pre-sliced packages or sliced at the deli counter. Now it is available in minis — 20-gram (0.7-ounce), 70-calorie mini wheels individually dipped in wax and wrapped in cellophane, crafted to replicate the distinct Jarlsberg wheel but in a convenient snack size. Jarlsberg minis are available in bags of five or with UPCs for individual sale.

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Food industry faces challenges,
opportunities in calorie labeling

March 20, 2015

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — By the end of the year, consumers will be more informed of the calorie counts of foods available in chain restaurants as implementation of calorie labeling regulations ramps up.

FDA late last year finalized two rules, prompted by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments and vending machines to help consumers make informed decisions about meals and snacks. The final rule also includes grocery stores and convenience stores that sell restaurant-type foods.

The menu labeling rule applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering substantially the same menu items for sale.

In the rule, FDA clarifies that certain foods purchased in grocery stores or other retail food establishments that are typically intended for more than one person to eat and require additional preparation before consuming — such as pounds of cheeses and deli meats and large-size deli salads — are not covered.

While calorie information must be clearly and prominently displayed, it is not the only sort of nutrition information consumers will have access to. Menus and menu boards also must inform consumers that additional information, such as saturated fat, carbohydrate and sodium content, is available upon request.

Meanwhile, the vending machine final rule requires operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie information for food sold from vending machines, subject to certain exceptions. The final rule allows for a number of different ways to display calories for vending machines, including an exemption if the calories, serving size and serving per container information is visible on the vending machine food.

Restaurants and similar retail food establishments have until Dec. 1, 2015, to add calorie counts to menus and menu boards, while vending operators that are covered will have until Dec. 1, 2016, to comply with the requirements.

Cary Frye, vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), notes that the dairy industry will need to be ready to provide foodservice customers with nutrition information for the foods and food ingredients they provide, since bulk food used in foodservice use — such as cheese for pizza, ice cream or cottage cheese for a salad bar — are not required to display a Nutrition Facts panel.

• Challenges in pizza, dairy labeling

Frye notes that with restaurants offering a multitude of food selections to meet everyone’s individual taste, it would be impossible to give calorie information for every menu option. According to the final rules, restaurants will need to label foods that are offered in a variety of sizes or flavors, such as an ice cream cone or a pizza with different combinations of toppings.

When a food item is on the menu with more than two options, a calorie range may be presented going from the lowest calorie option to the highest calorie option.

For pizza, the rules will allow labeling the calories either for the whole pizza as usually prepared, or per slice as long as the total number of servings per pizza is declared.

The option to label pizza by the slice was a “win” for the pizza industry, which initially expressed concern about how to label the calories for the vast number of combinations of crusts, sauces, toppings and cheeses used on pizza.

The National Restaurant Association, which advocated for federal labeling regulations — noting a uniform, national standard is better than a patchwork of state and local requirements — also voiced support for the option to label pizza by the slice as well as by the whole pie.

The association participated actively in the public comment process throughout the rulemaking process, and also launched a Pizzeria Industry Council in 2013 to engage the pizza community and address concerns and issues specific to pizza operators.

“We advocated on behalf of our membership to ensure labeling would include pizza by the slice and are pleased FDA incorporated this in their final rule, and we’re continuing to work with our members and the pizza community on education and implementation,” says Dan Roehl, vice president of government relations, National Restaurant Association.

Tim McIntyre, vice president, communications, for Domino’s, says while the company supports providing consumers with calorie information, it has sought a common sense approach in implementation.

Domino’s — and many in the pizza industry — conduct the bulk of their orders via phone or online ordering, he notes. Domino’s has provided calorie information on its website for 14 years, he adds.

“The concept of menu labeling is to put information in front of people at the point of decision making when ordering,” he says. “In our case, that would be on our website most times vs. in the stores.”

McIntyre notes that while Domino’s is a large company, it is made up of individual franchises — about 5,000 stores across the U.S. alone — and many are owned by independent operators.

“Why burden these small business owners with the cost of changing a large menu board in the store that is rarely seen at the point of ordering,” he says.

“We’re not against menu labeling,” he adds. “Where we push back is because pizza is so customizable and the bulk of orders are made off the premises — you’re putting an onus on individual franchisees by associating them with a brand, and our franchisee small business owners then have to take on a cost burden that a competing small pizza shop down the street doesn’t have to.”

• Opportunity for cheesemakers

Frye says cheesemakers and dairy companies need to be aware of these impending regulations, as those who sell products to foodservice or vending customers may want to supply nutrition information and prepare for possible requests for label or formulation changes.

However, it also provides an opportunity for the industry to showcase different options for cheese that pizza makers can consider, including swapping out certain cheeses for others or using cheese in lieu of another ingredient to provide the best protein/calorie/flavor balance, she adds.

Further, as cheese and dairy companies work on new formulations for lower fat, lower calorie and lower sodium cheeses, menu labeling provides an opportunity to tout these products to restaurants as a lower calorie but still savory option.

• Additional clarification

As the industry nears the implementation dates for menu and vending machine calorie labeling, some stakeholders are still looking for additional clarification on various aspects of the rules.

In a hearing last week on the fiscal year 2016 budget request for FDA, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., chair of the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA Appropriations Subcommittee, noted over the past four years, FDA has been given significant new responsibilities through the Food Safety Modernization Act, menu labeling legislation and drug compounding legislation.

“When implementing these laws, FDA must avoid the trappings of ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions,” Moran says. “Small businesses suffer under this practice all too frequently because they have limited capital to respond to significant new requirements and little time to implement these changes.”

Moran says FDA’s final rule on menu labeling is overly broad and inflexible and lacks a great deal of business practicality.

“I was disappointed to see the inclusion of grocery stores, convenience stores and other entities that do not sell restaurant-style food as their primary business,” he says.

Roehl notes that the National Restaurant Association is seeking clarification from FDA on what constitutes a menu vs. a marketing material, such as a billboard or pizza box, in terms of where calorie information will be required to be posted.

Meanwhile, many wonder whether the new calorie labeling laws will cause Americans to behave differently when dining out.

In two recent studies, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) began to explore these questions.

Menu labeling could motivate consumers to make different food choices at restaurants by reminding them about the importance of calories when eating out, but research shows that it is most likely to influence behavior when consumers learn new, surprising information, ERS says. Several studies have shown that menu labeling reduces the likelihood that a consumer purchases an item if its actual calories exceed expectations but has little impact if its actual calories are consistent with expectations, ERS adds.

To learn more from the studies in ERS’ February 2015 Amber Waves magazine, visit www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves.

CMN

 


Guggisberg Swiss wins U.S.
Championship Cheese Contest

March 20, 2015

MILWAUKEE — Team Guggisberg Sugarcreek, of Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, took top honors out of 1,892 entries from 28 states for their Swiss wheel at this week’s U.S. Championship Cheese Contest. Out of a possible 100 points, the Swiss wheel scored 98.496 in the final round of judging, during which judges re-evaluated the top 16 cheeses at an evening charity gala on Thursday to determine the overall champion.

First runner-up in the contest, with a score of 98.389, is a Brick cheese made by John (Randy) Pitman of Mill Creek Cheese in Arena, Wisconsin. Second runner-up is a Medium Cheddar made by the Kiel Production Team in Land O Lakes, Kiel, Wisconsin, which scored 98.337.

“Every medalist should be extremely proud of being recognized as the best of the best in the largest national dairy competition ever held,” says John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the biennial competition.

The top three cheeses in each category are:

• Cheddar, Mild (0 to 3 months)

Best of Class: Mark Frederixon, Associated Milk Producers Inc. , Blair, Wis., Mild Cheddar, 99.70.

Second: James Hayden, James Smullin, Dave Bunnell and Kasie Cota, Glanbia Foods, Blackfoot, Idaho, Mild White Cheddar, 99.40.

Third: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Cheddar cheese, cut from 640, 99.35.

• Cheddar, Medium (3 to 6 months)

Best of Class: Kiel Production Team, Land O’Lakes Inc., Kiel, Wis., Medium Cheddar, 99.50.

Second: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Cheddar cheese, cut from 640, 99.30.

Third: Dan Stearns, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Cheddar cheese, cut from 640, 99.05.

• Cheddar, Sharp (6 months to 1 year)

Best of Class: Rob Blount, Great Lakes Cheese of New York, Adams, N.Y., Cheddar, 99.50.

Second: Cheddar Room Team, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vt., Cheddar, Vermont Sharp, 98.90.

Third: Land O’Lakes Manufactured for Masters Gallery Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wis., Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 98.85.

• Cheddar, Aged 1-2 years

Best of Class: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Cheddar cheese, cut from 640, 98.50.

Second: Cheddar Room Team, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vt., Cheddar, Cabot Private Stock, 98.30.

Third: Kiel Cheesemakers, Land O’Lakes Inc., Kiel, Wis., Aged Cheddar 1-2 Years, 98.25.

• Cheddar, Aged 2 Years or Longer

Best of Class: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Cheddar cheese, cut from 640, 99.30.

Second: Land O’Lakes Manufactured for Master Gallery Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wis., Aged Cheddar Cheese, 98.80.

Third: Tracy Stuckey, Great Lakes Cheese of New York, Adams, N.Y., Cheddar, 98.75.

• Bandaged Cheddar, Mild to Medium

Best of Class: Team Henning, Henning’s Cheese, Kiel, Wis., Medium Cheddar Midget, 99.50.

Second: Wayne Hintz, Springside Cheese, Oconto Falls, Wis., Cheddar Favorite, 99.05.

Third: Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wis., Old English Style Cheddar, aged 6 months, 99.00.

• Bandaged Cheddar, Sharp to Aged

Best of Class: Josh Pettit, Glanbia Foods, Twin Falls, Idaho, Bandaged Sharp Cheddar, 97.80.

Second: Dane Huebner, Grafton Village Cheese, Brattleboro, Vt., Vermont Clothbound Cheddar, 97.65.

Third: Wayne Hintz, Red Barn Family Farms, Appleton, Wis., 3-Year Heritage Weis Old World Style White Cheddar Cheese, 97.60.

• Colby

Best of Class: Team Arena, Arena Cheese, Arena, Wis., Colby Deli Longhorn, 99.10.

Second: Jason Studnicka, Meister Cheese Co., Muscoda, Wis., Colby Longhorn, 98.95.

Third: Ryan’s Team, Guggisberg-Deutsch Käse, Middlebury, Ind., Traditional Colby Longhorn, 98.90.

• Monterey Jack

Best of Class: Jason Studnicka, Meister Cheese Co., Muscoda, Wis., 99.75.

Second: Larry Inman, AMPI, Rochester, Minn., 99.60.

Third: Jerome Fredrick, Lynn Dairy Inc., Granton, Wis., 99.30.

• Marbled Curd Cheese

Best of Class: Tillamook County Creamery, Tillamook, Ore., Stirred Curd Marbled Curd Colby Monterey Jack, 99.50.

Second: Team SV, Cady Cheese LLC, Wilson, Wis., Gold’N Jack 3, 99.25.

Third: Tillamook County Creamery, Tillamook, Ore., Stirred Curd Marbled Curd Colby Monterey Jack, 98.95.

• Swiss Style Cheese

Best of Class: Team Guggisberg Sugarcreek, Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, Swiss Wheel, 99.00.

Second: Penn Cheese, Winfield, Pa., Rindless Block Swiss, 98.70.

Third: Neal Schwartz, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Swiss wheel, 98.50.

• Mozzarella

Best of Class: Chilton Team, Foremost Farms USA, Chilton, Wis., Low-Moisture Mozzarella, 98.60.

Second: Mozzarella Department, Sorrento Lactalis, Buffalo, N.Y., Whole-Milk High-Moisture Retail, 98.05.

Third: Mozzarella Department, Sorrento Lactalis, Buffalo, N.Y., Whole-Milk Low-Moisture Retail, 97.70.

• Mozzarella, Part Skim

Best of Class: Team Candido Corrales, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), Turlock, Calif., 99.55.

Second: Chilton Team, Foremost Farms USA, Chilton, Wis. 99.30.

Third: Team Lake Norden, Lake Norden Cheese Co., Lake Norden, S.D., 99.00.

• Provolone, Mild

Best of Class: Roger Krohn, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wis., 99.35.

Second: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wis., 99.30.

Third: Provolone Department, Sorrento Lactalis, Buffalo, N.Y., 99.20.

• Provolone, Aged

Best of Class: Kevin Benzel, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wis., Mandarini, 99.45.

Second: Burnett Dairy Team, Burnett Dairy, Grantsburg, Wis., Aged Provolone B, 99.35.

Third: Burnett Dairy Team, Burnett Dairy, Grantsburg, Wis., Aged Provolone, 99.15.

• Smoked Provolone

Best of Class: Roger Krohn, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wis., Smoked Provolone, 99.15.

Second: Provolone Department, Sorrento Lactalis, Buffalo, N.Y., Smoked Mild Provolone, 98.85.

Third: Pat Doell, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wis., Smoked Provolone, 98.80.

• Ricotta

Best of Class: Team Calabro, Calabro Cheese Corp., East Haven, Conn., Hand Dipped Ricotta, 99.35.

Second: Ricotta Department, Sorrento Lactalis, Buffalo, N.Y., Whole Milk Milk-Based Ricotta, 99.20.

Third: Joseph Taranto, Montena Taranto Foods, Ridgefield, N.J., Traditional Ricotta, 99.10.

• Parmesan

Best of Class: Steve Bierhals, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wis., American Grana, 99.60.

Second: Tim Dudek, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wis., Parmesan, 99.55.

Third: Lake Country Dairy Team, Arthur Schuman Inc., Fairfield, N.J., Cello Riserva Artisan Reserve Parmesan Wheel, 99.25.

• Asiago

Best of Class: Eau Galle Cheese Factory Team, Eau Galle Cheese Factory, Durand, Wis., Aged Asiago, 99.50.

Second: Lake Country Dairy Team, Arthur Schuman Inc., Fairfield, N.J., Cello Riserva Hand Crafted Asiago Wheel, 99.30.

Third: Randy Krahenbuhl, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wis., Asiago Fresco, 99.20.

• Baby Swiss Style

Best of Class: Jamie Fahrney, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Baby Swiss block, 99.10.

Second: Gary Vaughn, Middlefield Cheese, Middlefield, Ohio, Baby Swiss cheese, 98.75.

Third: Silvan Blum, Chalet Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Baby Swiss wheel, 97.80.

• Feta

Best of Class: Micah Klug, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Feta cheese, 99.50.

Second: Terry Lensmire, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., 99.20.

Third: Steve Webster, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Odyssey Feta, 99.10.

• Feta, Flavored

Best of Class: Luke Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Odyssey Mediterranean Herb Feta in Brine, 99.40.

Second: Jim Demeter, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Odyssey Tomato & Basil Feta, 99.35.

Third: Micah Klug, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Feta cheese with Peppercorn, 99.00.

• Havarti

Best of Class: Bruce Workman, Fair Oaks Farms, Fair Oaks, Ind., 99.45.

Second: Decatur Dairy Team 2, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Wis., 99.30.

Third: Team Edelweiss, Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello, Wis., 98.75.

• Havarti Flavored

Best of Class: Team Edelweiss, Edelweiss Creamery, Monticello, Wis., Dill Havarti, 99.05.

Second: Bruce Workman, Fair Oaks Farms, Fair Oaks, Ind., Dill Havarti, 99.00.

Third: Matt Henze, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Wis., Havarti Dill, 98.85.

• Gorgonzola

Best of Class: Simply Artisan Reserve, Litehouse, Sandpoint, Idaho, Double Creme Gorgonzola, full of creamy single-source milk, 98.90.

Second: Caves of Faribault Team, Caves of Faribault, Faribault, Minn., AmaGorg Cave Aged Gorgonzola, 97.95.

Third: Imperia Foods Montfort Wisconsin Team, Arthur Schuman Inc., Fairfield, N.J., Montforte Gorgonzola Wheel, 97.90.

• String Cheese

Best of Class: Joe Buechel, Baker Cheese Factory Inc., St. Cloud, Wis., Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella String Cheese, 99.50.

Second: Kurt Premo, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Wis., Farmers Rope String Cheese, 99.45.

Third: String Team 3, Kraft Foods/Pollio Italian Cheese Co., Campbell, N.Y., Kraft/Polly-O Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella String Cheese, 99.35.

• Cottage Cheese

Best of Class: Cottage Team, Westby Co-op Creamery, Westby, Wis., 4-percent Small Curd Cottage Cheese, 98.25.

Second: Kemps LLC, St. Paul, Minn., Kemps Cottage Cheese with Chives, 96.90.

Third: Kemps LLC, St. Paul, Minn., Kemps 4-percent Large Curd Cottage Cheese, 95.85.

• Fresh Mozzarella

Best of Class: George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Wis., Fresh Mozzarella Ovoline, 99.15

Second: Team Calabro, Calabro Cheese Corp., East Haven, Conn., Ovoline, 98.90.

Third: Losurdo Foods Fresh Mozzarella Line, Losurdo Foods Inc., Heuvelton, N.Y., Bocconcini in water, 98.75.

• Blue-Veined, Exterior Molding

Best of Class: Nathan Arnold, Sequatchie Cove Creamery, Sequatchie, Tenn., Shakerag Blue, 99.25.

Second: Jasper Hill Farm, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro, Vt., Bayley Hazen Blue, 99.10.

Third: Turner Reynolds, Nature’s Harmony Farm, Elberton, Ga.,Elberton Blue Cheese, 98.15.

• Blue-Veined

Best of Class: Rogue River Blue, Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Ore., Rogue River Blue, 99.40.

Second: Blue Team, Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Ore., Smokey Blue, 99.30.

Third: Caves of Faribault Team, Caves of Faribault, Faribault, Minn., St. Pete’s Select Cave Aged Blue Cheese, 99.25.

• Brick & Muenster

Best of Class: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Brick, 99.85.

Second: Walter Hartwig, Zimmerman Cheese Inc., South Wayne, Wis., Muenster, 99.75.

Third: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Muenster, 99.70.

• Brie & Camembert

Best of Class: Lactalis Belmont, Lactalis American Group, Belmont, Wis., Camembert, 99.80.

Second: Soft Production Team, Alouette Cheese - Kolb Lena, Lena, Ill., Alouette Special Reserve Brie, 99.55.

Third: Team MTC, Mt. Townsend Creamery, Port Townsend, Wash., Pacific Northwest Camembert, 99.50.

• Open Class: Soft Ripened Cheeses

Best of Class: Jasper Hill Farm, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro, Vt., Harbison, 99.35.

Second: Jasper Hill Farm, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro, Vt., Moses Sleeper, 99.10.

Third: Matthew Brichford, Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese, Connersville, Ind., Ameribella, 99.00.

• Edam & Gouda

Best of Class: Marieke Gouda Team, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Marieke Gouda Young, 98.40.

Second: Bruce Workman, Fair Oaks Farms, Fair Oaks, Ind., Gouda, 98.35.

Third: Duane Petersen, Arla Foods, Kaukauna, Wis., Edam Loaf, 98.30.

• Gouda, Aged

Best of Class: Maple Leaf Shelf Curing Team, Maple Leaf Cheese Co-op, Monroe, Wis., Maple Leaf Traditional Gouda, 99.60.

Second: Marieke Gouda Team, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Marieke Gouda Mature, 99.45.

Third: Gary Grossen, Babcock Dairy Plant, Madison, Wis., Aged Gouda, 98.60.

• Gouda, Flavored

Best of Class: John Dirk Bulk, Oakdale Cheese, Oakdale, Calif., Cumin Gouda, 99.65.

Second: Marieke Gouda Team, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Marieke Gouda Black Pepper Mix, 99.60.

Third: Marieke Gouda Team, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Marieke Gouda Cumin, 99.45.

• Smoked Gouda

Best of Class: Marieke Gouda Team, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Marieke Gouda Smoked Cumin, 99.50.

Second: Marieke Gouda Team, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Marieke Gouda Smoked, 99.45.

Third: Javier Vega, Glanbia Foods, Twin Falls, Idaho, Smoked Gouda, 98.90.

• Fresh Hispanic Cheeses (Quesos Frescos)

Best of Class: Team W&W Dairy, W&W Dairy, Monroe, Wis., Queso Fresco, 99.45.

Second: MCP Team, Mexican Cheese Producers Inc. (Bar-S), Darlington, Wis., Queso Cremoso Pail, 99.40.

Third: Marquez Brothers International Inc., Hanford, Calif., Queso Fresco, 99.35.

• Hispanic Melting Cheeses (Quesos para Fundir)

Best of Class: Team Nuestro Queso, Nuestro Queso LLC, Kent, Ill., Queso Oaxaca Ball, 99.60.

Second: Team Nuestro Queso, Nuestro Queso, LLC, Kent, Ill., Queso Oaxaca Strips, 98.30.

Third: Marquez Brothers International, Inc. Hanford, Calif., Oaxaca, 97.85.

• Hard Hispanic Cheeses (Queso Duro)

Best of Class: Team Emmi Roth USA, Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis., Roth GranQueso Reserve, 99.50.

Second: Team MCP, Mexican Cheese Producers Inc. (Bar-S), Darlington, Wis., Queso Cotija Wheel II, 99.40.

Third: Team MCP, Mexican Cheese Producers Inc. (Bar-S), Darlington, Wis., Cotija Wheel, 99.35.

• Open Class: Smear Ripened Soft Cheeses

Best of Class: Murray’s Cheese and Jasper Hill Farm, Murray’s Cheese, New York, Cave Master Reserve, Greensward, 99.50.

Second: Jasper Hill Farm, Cellars at Jasper Hill, Greensboro, Vt., Winnimere, 99.25.

Third: Team Marin French, Marin French Cheese, Petaluma, Calif., Schloss, 99.10.

• Open Class: Smear Ripened Semi-soft Cheeses

Best of Class: Spring Brook Farm, Farms for City Kids Foundation, Reading, Vt., Ashlyn - Semi-soft Raw Milk Vermont Artisan Cheese, 99.20.

Second: Spring Brook Farm, Farms for City Kids Foundation, Reading, Vt., Reading - Semi-soft Vermont Artisan Raclette, 99.15.

Third: Matthew Brichford, Jacobs and Brichford Farmstead Cheese, Connersville, Ind., Briana, 99.10.

• Open Class: Smear Ripened Hard Cheeses

Best of Class: Chris Roelli, Roelli Cheese Co., Shullsburg, Wis.,Extra Aged Alpine Cheese, 99.75.

Second: Team Emmi Roth USA, Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, Wis., Roth’s Private Reserve, 99.70.

Third: Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville, Wis., Pleasant Ridge Reserve, 99.50.

• Pepper Flavored Monterey Jack

Best of Class: Tillamook County Creamery, Tillamook, Ore., Stirred Curd Red and Green Jalapeno Pepper Jack, 99.15

Second: Adelita Simic, Glanbia Foods, Twin Falls, Idaho, Ghost Pepper Jack, 99.05.

Third: Tillamook County Creamery, Tillamook, Ore., Stirred Curd Red and Green Jalapeno Pepper Jack, 99.00.

• Pepper Flavored “American” Style Cheeses

Best of Class: C&W Team, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vt., Vermont Hot Buffalo Wing Cheddar, 99.65.

Second: Team Cracker Barrel Natural Cheese, Valley Queen Cheese for Kraft Foods, Glenview, Ill., Jalapeno Cheddar, 99.50.

Third: Southwest Cheese Co., Southwest Cheese LLC, Clovis, NM., Southwest Reserve, 99.15.

• Open Class: Pepper Flavored Cheeses

Best of Class: Glenn Goss, Schnabeltier, Rochester, Ind., Chipotle Pepper Gouda, 99.50.

Second: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Pepper Brick, 99.40.

Third: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., La Valle, Wis., Wildfire Blue, 99.30.

• Open Class: Flavored Soft Cheeses

Best of Class: Fresh Mozz Team, Lactalis American Group, Nampa, Idaho, Marinated Fresh Mozzarella, 99.65.

Second: George Crave, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Wis., Marinated Fresh Mozzarella, 99.55.

Third: Carlos Rodriguez, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wis., Zesty Marinated Hand Braided Fresh Mozzarella, 99.15.

• Flavored Semi-soft Cheeses

Best of Class: Team SV, Cady Cheese LLC, Wilson, Wis., Monterey Jack with Kalamata Olives, 99.50.

Second: Team Toscana, Toscana Cheese Co., Secaucus, N.J., Fresh Marinated Braid Mozzarella, 99.50.

Third: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Caraway Brick, 99.45.

• Open Class: Flavored Hard Cheeses

Best of Class: Igor Kranjc, Glanbia Foods, Twin Falls, Idaho, White Cheddar/Chives, 99.15.

Second: Team Great Midwest, Saputo Specialty Cheese for Henning’s, Richfield, Wis., Great Midwest Pizzano Cheddar Cheese, 99.15.

Third: C&W Team, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vt., Everything Bagel Vermont Cheddar, 99.00.

• Open Class: Flavored Cheeses with Sweet Condiments

Best of Class: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Sartori Limited Edition Peppermint BellaVitano, 99.50.

Second: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Sartori Reserve Balsamic BellaVitano, 99.45.

Third: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Sartori Reserve Raspberry BellaVitano, 99.40

• Open Class: Smoked Soft and Semi-soft Cheeses

Best of Class: Dave Newman, Arla Foods, Kaukauna, Wis., Edam loaf smoked, 99.80.

Second: Burnett Dairy Team, Burnett Dairy, Grantsburg, Wis., Smoked String Cheese, 99.40.

Third: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., LaValle, Wis., Smoked Fontina, 99.20.

• Open Class: Smoked Hard Cheeses

Best of Class: Mike Matucheski, Sartori Co., Antigo, Wis., Sartori Smoked Alpine Style, 99.60.

Second: Swiss Team, Pearl Valley Cheese Inc., Fresno, Ohio, Smoked Swiss, 99.45.

Third: Fernando Chavez-Sandoval, Gold Creek Farms, Woodland, Utah, Smoked Cheddar, 99.15.

• Open Class: Soft Cheeses

Best of Class: Tom Pintar, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wis., BelGioioso Crema di Mascarpone, 99.10.

Second: Fresh Cheese Team, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vt., Mascarpone, 98.90.

Third: Di Stefano Cheese, Pomona, Calif., Fresh Mascarpone, 98.85.

• Open Class: Semi-soft Cheeses

Best of Class: Saxon Team, Saxon Creamery, Cleveland, Wis., Snowfields aged 15 months, 99.25.

Second: Marieke Gouda Team, Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, Wis., Marieke Golden, 99.05.

Third: John (Randy) Pitman, Mill Creek Cheese, Arena, Wis., Farmer, 99.00.

• Open Class: Hard Cheeses

Best of Class: Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville, Wis., Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve, 99.70.

Second: Saxon Cheese LLC, Cleveland, Wis., Saxony Alpine Style Aged 18 months, 99.65.

Third: Bill Sikorski, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wis., Romano, 99.45.

• Reduced Fat Soft & Semi-soft Cheeses

Best of Class: String Team 2, Kraft Foods/Pollio Italian Cheese Co., Campbell, N.Y., Reduced Fat Mozzarella String Cheese, 99.80.

Second: Micah Klug, Agropur, Weyauwega, Wis., Reduced Fat Feta, 99.55.

Third: String Team 1, Kraft Foods/Pollio Italian Cheese Co., Campbell, N.Y., Reduced Fat Mozzarella String Cheese, 99.45.

• Reduced Fat Hard Cheeses

Best of Class: Cheddar Room Team, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot, Vt., Vermont 50-percent Reduced Fat Cheddar, 98.10.

Second: Rudy Jozelic, Glanbia Twin Falls, Twin Falls, Idaho, Reduced Fat Cheddar, 95.50.

Third: Travis Holscher, Valley Queen Cheese Factory Inc., Milbank, S.D., Reduced Fat Cheddar - Cut Cheese, 95.45.

• Lowfat Cheeses

Best of Class: Matt Erdley, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Odyssey Lowfat Feta in Brine, 99.20.

Second: Steve Webster, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Odyssey Fat Free Feta in Brine, 98.80.

Third: Lactalis Belmont, Lactalis American Group, Belmont, Wis., Feta Fat Free Chunk, 98.65.

• Reduced Sodium Cheeses

Best of Class: Penn Cheese, Winfield, Pa., Lacey Swiss Cheese, reduced sodium, 99.50.

Second: Chad Duhai, Zimmerman Cheese, South Wayne, Wis., Reduced Sodium Muenster, 99.25.

Third: Roger Krohn, Agropur, Luxemburg, Wis., Reduced Sodium Provolone, 99.10.

• Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food

Best of Class: Team Pine River, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Wis., Aged Asiago Cold Pack Cheese Food, 99.50.

Second: Team Pine River, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Wis., Garlic and Herb Cold Pack Cheese Food, 99.45.

Third: Team Pine River, Pine River Pre-Pack, Newton, Wis., Extra Sharp Cheddar Cold Pack Cheese Food, 99.20.

• Cold Pack Cheese Spreads

Best of Class: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., La Valle, Wis., Chunky Blue Cold Pack Cheese Spread, 99.10.

Second: Team Merkts Silver, Bel Brands USA, Little Chute, Wis., Merkts Swiss Almond Cold Pack Cheese Spread, 99.05.

Third: Team Merkts Gold, Bel Brands USA, Little Chute, Wis., Merkts Beer Cold Pack Cheese Spread, 98.70.

• Spreadable Cheeses

Best of Class: Cream Cheese Team, Swiss Valley Farms, Luana, Iowa, Cream Cheese, 99.30.

Second: Alouette Cheese USA, New Holland, Pa., Smithfield Cream Cheese, 98.60.

Third: Team Franklin Foods, Franklin Foods, Enosburg Falls, Vt., Hahn’s Cream Cheese, 98.50.

• Flavored Spreadable Cheeses

Best of Class: Courtney Schreiner, Lactalis U.S.A., Inc., Merrill, Wis., Rondelé Garlic & Herbs Gourmet Spreadable Cheese, 99.30.

Second: Margarete Porod, Lactalis U.S.A., Inc., Merrill, Wis., Rondelé Peppercorn Parmesan Gourmet Spreadable Cheese, 99.05.

Third: FFP South, Family Fresh Pack, Monticello, Wis., Kelly’s Kitchen Cranberry Almond Gourmet Cheese Spread, 98.95.

• Pasteurized Process Cheeses

Best of Class: Jerry Prahl, Lactalis USA Inc., Merrill, Wis., Wee Brie Pasteurized Spreadable Cheese, 99.10.

Second: Process Slice Team, Associated Milk Producers Inc., Portage, Wis., Process American Swiss Slice, 98.75.

Third: Joe Wilson, Biery Cheese Co., Louisville, Ohio, Pasteurized Process White American, 98.10.

• Flavored Pasteurized Process Cheeses

Best of Class: Team Loaf, Land O’Lakes. Spencer, Wis., White Extra Melt w/ Jalapenos, 99.40.

Second: Joe Wilson, Biery Cheese Co., Louisville, Ohio, Naturally Smoked Pasteurized Process Cheddar Cheese, 99.05.

Third: Williams Team Gold, Williams Cheese Co., Linwood, Mich., Spicy Beer Spread, 98.45.

• Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Cypress Grove Chevre, Arcata, Calif., Perfectly cultured milk tastes of fresh cream with a citrus finish, 99.50.

Second: Fresh Cheese Team, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vt., Creamy Goat Cheese, 99.45.

Third: Fresh Cheese Team, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vt., Fresh Goat Cheese, 99.40.

• Flavored Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Fresh Cheese Team, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vt., Fresh Goat Cheese Crumbles Apricot & Thyme, 99.25.

Second: Camy Berntgen, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wis., Peppadew, 98.85.

Third: Team Laura Chenel’s, Laura Chenel’s Chévre, Sonoma, Calif., Cabecou marinated aged goat cheese, 98.80.

• Flavored Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses with Sweet Condiments

Best of Class: Bryan Adams, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wis., Honey Goat Cheese, 99.65.

Second: Coach Farm, Pine Plains, N.Y., Fresh Goat Cheese filled with Fig Jam, 99.30.

Third: Dennis Cardy, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wis., Rondin Honey, 99.20.

• Surface (Mold) Ripened Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Team Laura Chenel’s, Laura Chenel’s Chévre, Sonoma, Calif., Taupiniere aged goat cheese, 99.50.

Second: Aged Cheese Team, Vermont Creamery, Websterville, Vt., Coupole, 99.40.

Third: Tim Pennekamp, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wis., Mini Cabrie, 99.35.

• Semi-soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Scott Rood, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wis., Crumbled Fresh & Natural Goat Cheese, 99.65.

Second: Estella Galeas, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wis., Crumbled Plain Tray, 99.55.

Third: Central Coast Creamery, Paso Robles, Calif., Goat Gouda, 99.35.

• Flavored Semi-soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., LaValle, Wis., Cocoa Cardona, 98.95.

Second: Mary Kay VonGlahn, Montchevre-Betin Inc., Belmont, Wis., Pomegranate & Orange Zest, 98.90.

Third: New Products Team, Alouette Cheese - Kolb Lena, Lena, Ill., Chavrie Cucumber & Chives Log, 98.85.

• Hard Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Katie Hedrich-Fuhrmann, LaClare Farms, Malone, Wis., Evalon, 99.25.

Second: J. Michael Whitehead & The Production Team, Heartland Creamery. Newark, Mo., Goat Cheddar, 98.80.

Third: Central Coast Creamery, Paso Robles, Calif., Goat Cheddar, 98.50.

• Soft & Semi-soft Sheep’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Landmark Creamery Team, Landmark Creamery, Albany, Wis., Petit Nuage, 98.80.

Second: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., La Valle, Wis., Ba Ba Blue, 97.70.

Third: Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wis., Farmstead Feta, 97.55.

• Flavored Soft & Semi-soft Sheep’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Murray’s Cheese and Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Murray’s Cheese, New York, Cave Master Reserve, Hudson Flower, 98.80.

Second: Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wis., Driftless - Honey Lavender, 98.75.

Third: Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wis., Driftless - Cranberry Cinnamon, 98.65.

• Surface (Mold) Ripened Sheep’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., La Valle, Wis., Cave Aged Marisa, 98.60.

Second: Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. White Team, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, N.Y., Mini Kinderhook Creek, 98.50.

Third: Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. White Team, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, N.Y., Kinderhook Creek, 98.35.

• Hard Sheep’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wis., Ocooch Reserve, 99.40.

Second: Cedar Grove Cheese Team, Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Wis., Donatello, 99.35.

Third: Brenda Jensen, Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, Wis., Timber Coulee Reserve, 99.15.

• Soft & Semi-soft Mixed Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Tony Ellis, BelGioioso Cheese Inc., Green Bay, Wis., Crumbly Gorgonzola with Sheep’s Milk, 98.65.

Second: Bekkum Family, Nordic Creamery, Westby, Wis., Sarah Select with Peppers, 98.55.

Third: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., La Valle, Wis., Airco, 98.60.

• Surface (Mold) Ripened Mixed Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. White Team, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, N.Y., Hudson Valley Camembert, 99.40.

Second: Carr Valley Cheese Makers, Carr Valley Cheese Co. Inc., La Valle, Wis., Cave Aged Mellage, 99.00.

Third: Katie Hedrich-Fuhrmann, LaClare Farms, Malone, Wis., Martone, 98.70.

• Hard Mixed Milk Cheeses

Best of Class: Mike Matucheski, Sartori, Plymouth, Wis., Sartori Limited Edition Pastorale Blend, 99.65.

Second: Cedar Grove Cheese Team, Cedar Grove Cheese, Plain, Wis., Weird Sisters, 98.80.

Third: Team Hook, Hook’s Cheese Co. Inc., Mineral Point, Wis., Triple Play, 98.50.

• Butter

Best of Class: Team Chaseburg, CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, La Farge, Wis., Organic Pasture (Salted & Cultured) Butter, 99.35.

Second: FFUSA - Reedsburg #3, Foremost Farms USA, Reedsburg, Wis., Salted Butter, 99.15.

Third: Grassland Dairy Products, Greenwood, Wis., Salted Butter, 99.10.

• Unsalted Butter

Best of Class: Team Hillsboro, Hillsboro Riverview Dairy, Hillsboro, Wis., Unsalted Butter, 99.20.

Second: Grassland Dairy Products, Greenwood, Wis., Unsalted Butter, 99.15.

Third: DFA Winnsboro, Winnsboro, Texas, 80-percent Unsalted Butter, 98.65.

• Open Class Shredded Cheese, Flavored or Unflavored

Best of Class: Team Sartori Whey, Sartori Co., Plymouth, Wis., Sartori Reserve SarVecchio Parmesan, 99.10.

Second: Team V&V Supremo/Chula Vista, V&V Supremo Foods, Chicago, Queso Quesadilla, 98.95.

Third: Masters Gallery Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wis., Shredded Colby Jack Cheese, 98.85.

• Prepared Cheese Foods

Best of Class: Pasture Pride Cheese Makers, Pasture Pride Cheese, Cashton, Wis., Traditional Juustoleipa, 98.60.

Second: Team Arthur Schuman, Arthur Schuman Inc., Fairfield, N.J., Cello Whisps, 98.25.

Third: Team Calabro, Calabro Cheese Corp., East Haven, Conn., Rotolini, 98.00.

• Lowfat Cow’s Milk Yogurt

Best of Class: Karoun Dairies Inc., San Fernando, Calif., Gopi Indian Lowfat Yogurt, 99.05.

Second: Auburn Dairy Products, Inc., Auburn, Wash., Yami Lowfat Plain Yogurt, 99.00.

Third: Karoun Dairies Inc., San Fernando, Calif., Karoun Mediterranean Lowfat Yogurt, 98.95.

• Lowfat Cow’s Milk Yogurt, Flavored

Best of Class: Westby Cooperative Creamery, Westby, Wis., Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt, 99.50.

Second: Auburn Dairy Products, Inc., Auburn, Wash., Yami Lowfat Strawberry Yogurt, 98.90.

Third: West Seneca Culture Division, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, West Seneca, N.Y., Lowfat Blended Yogurt - Orange Cream, 98.40.

• High Protein Cow’s Milk Yogurt

Best of Class: Adam Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Odyssey Greek Yogurt 10-percent, 99.30.

Second: Schreiber Foods-Richland Center West, Schreiber Foods, Richland Center, Wis., 3-percent Greek Plain, 99.15.

Third: Adam Buholzer, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis., Odyssey Greek Yogurt 0-percent, 99.10.

• High Protein Cow’s Milk Yogurt, Flavored

Best of Class: West Seneca Culture Division, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, West Seneca, N.Y., Blueberry Greek Yogurt, 99.50.

Second: Schreiber Foods-Richland Center West, Schreiber Foods, Richland Center, Wis., Orange Cream Greek Yogurt, 99.45.

Third: Auburn Dairy Products, Inc., Auburn, Wash., Zoi Whole Milk Strawberry Greek Yogurt, 99.40.

• Yogurt, All Other Milks

Best of Class: Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. Yogurt Team, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, N.Y., Sheep’s Milk Yogurt - American Cherry, 98.45.

Second: Coach Farm, Pine Plains, N.Y., Vanilla Goat Milk Yogurt, 98.40.

Third: Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. Yogurt Team, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co., Old Chatham, N.Y., Sheep’s Milk Yogurt - Plain, 98.35.

• Drinkable Cultured Products, All Flavors/All Milks

Best of Class: Marquez Brothers International, Inc., Hanford, Calif., Drinkable Yogurt, Guava, 99.95.

Second: Marquez Brothers International, Inc., Hanford, Calif., Drinkable Yogurt, Strawberry Banana, 99.90.

Third: Marquez Brothers International, Inc., Hanford, Calif., Drinkable Yogurt, Pina Colada, 99.80.

CMN


Digital ordering innovations
grow sales for pizza makers

March 20, 2015

By Rena Archwamety

MADISON, Wis. — Innovations in digital ordering channels, including website, mobile and other devices, have become an essential part in growing sales for pizza restaurants.

Domino’s recently announced that its emphasis on technology innovation has helped generate approximately 50 percent of U.S. sales from its digital channels at the end of 2014 and reach an estimated run rate of $4 billion annually in global digital sales. Hungry Howie’s Pizza, which recently unveiled a new digital ordering platform, says since its December 2014 launch, some stores have reported online ordering have reached more than 40 percent of sales.

Paul Glomski, co-founder and CEO of Detroit Labs, which has partnered with Domino’s on its mobile app development since 2011, says a company can expect digital technologies like mobile ordering to be a big deal if it fits well with their business.

“For a company like Domino’s, it’s such a good fit that it became a significant piece of their business,” Glomski says. “The trend we see is that a lot of companies have realized the opportunity you have to connect with people by a device 24 hours a day.”

Mobile and online ordering channels also present restaurants with an opportunity to sell add-ons or allow users to customize toppings. Domino’s allows users to choose from “light,” “regular” and “extra” cheese, and it actively promotes the “extra” option on its digital ordering channels. It also promotes different add-ons, such as its Stuffed Cheesy Bread, throughout the year on a rotating basis.

Tim McIntyre, Domino’s vice president of communications, says the company has used “millions of pounds” of extra cheese as a result of the company’s sales increases via digital ordering channels.

• New innovations

Voice and eye recognition technology, smartwatch compatibility and in-car ordering are a few of the latest innovations major pizza companies recently have brought to their digital ordering platforms.

Earlier this month, Domino’s announced that its customers now can place and track their orders via Pebble and Android Wear smartwatches. To utilize this new ordering feature, Pebble and Android Wear smartwatch users must have Domino’s app for their smartwatch, along with saved order history or preferences.

“Pairing Domino’s with smartwatch technology couldn’t be more of a natural fit,” says Kevin Vasconi, Domino’s chief information officer. “We are constantly looking for ways to use technology to enhance our customers’ experience and provide them with more convenience.”

Glomski says wearable technology is a big thing now, with Apple’s announcement that it will release the Apple Watch to the public in April, and several Android watches that already are available.

“For something you do as frequently as order food, that could be a good fit for a wearable device,” Glomski says. “You look at your watch, say on the subway, and you know in 20 minutes you will be home. Tap the watch a couple of times to get a pizza to show up at your apartment.”

Also this month, Pizza Hut, Visa Inc. and Accenture announced they are working together to develop a proof-of-concept connected car to test mobile and online purchases on the go. The partners expect to test the connected car commerce experience in Northern California over a three-month period, starting this spring. As part of the connected car trial, Pizza Hut now will provide in-car access to menus, delivery and pick-up options as well as test in-restaurant “beacon technology” to notify team members when the customer’s car has arrived. Interactive voice control will be used to enable consumers to make in-car purchases while keeping both hands on the steering wheel.

“We’re committed to offering speed and convenience to our customers when ordering online, and this new connected car technology is the latest way for us to do that,” says Baron Concors, chief digital officer, Pizza Hut. “We have the largest suite of mobile apps and are proud to be the exclusive pizza company to offer Visa Checkout, so with our history of innovation, it only made sense for us to be the first to test the beacon technology in cars.”

Late last year, Pizza Hut restaurants in the United Kingdom partnered with Tobii Technology to release the “World’s First Subconscious Menu.” The menu, completely controlled by the customer’s retina, featured images of 20 ingredients and used a mathematical algorithm to identify, from 4,896 possible ingredient combinations, the customer’s perfect pizza.

• Quick service

Some of the latest innovations for pizza ordering feature simple concepts that make ordering a pizza quick and easy. Italian startup company La Comanda recently introduced Click’N’Pizza, a device that attaches magnetically to the refrigerator door and offers three features: Just One Click, which automatically e-orders the user’s favorite pizza; Turn and Click, which allows the user to select from different toppings, and Promo’N’Click, where the user can select from promotions with a single click. Distribution is slated to start in North America by this summer, with the first test phase done in partnership with Pizza Hut.

An even more streamlined ordering app, “Push for Pizza,” requires only a few touches to place an order. First, users push the pizza button. Then they choose from cheese or pepperoni, and the app will order from a nearby pizzeria based on the user’s location.

Glomski says while some app features like card-on-file technology seem very simple, these strongly impact the user experience by making the ordering process very easy.

“For the customer, it’s about getting their food and making it really easy,” he says. “If you do that, people will keep coming back over and over again.”

• App advice

The key to developing successful apps is creating a good user experience, which is specific to whomever the company’s customers are, Glomski says.

“A good user experience for one company might be something that’s flashy and 100-percent design, with very little about functionality,” he says. “For most of them, it’s a combination of functionality and the value you deliver to your customers. Every client we talk to, we say the way to get the most benefit from a mobile app is to look at your particular business and really look at what you’re trying to solve for your business and your customer and start there.”

In mobile apps, Glomski says people have high expectations for experience but they don’t expect it to do everything that a website does.

“Another insight we share with clients quite a bit is that it’s better to do a few things that work really well and fit with a mobile app than to take everything and then try to cram it in there,” he says. “An app isn’t meant to do everything. It’s better to do a few things well, get it in the customer’s hands, and then get feedback about what they like and don’t like. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with new technology what’s going to resonate. You can then read reviews of the app, talk to people and get a sense of what’s really important to them.”

CMN


Milk production up 1.7 percent in February vs. 2014

March 20, 2015

WASHINGTON — In the 23 major milk-producing states, milk production during February totaled 15.15 billion pounds, up 1.7 percent from February 2014, according to data released Thursday by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). (All figures are rounded. Please see CMN’s Milk Production chart.)

January revised production for the 23 major states, at 16.54 billion pounds, was up 2.2 percent from January 2014. The January revision represents an increase of 17 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month’s preliminary production estimate.

For the entire United States, NASS estimates February production totaled 16.17 billion pounds, up 1.7 percent from February 2014. NASS estimates there were 9.31 million cows on farms in the United States in February, 3,000 head more than in January 2015 and 100,000 head more than in February 2014. Production per cow in February 2015 averaged 1,736 pounds, NASS says, a gain of 9 pounds vs. February 2014.

In the 23 major states, NASS reports there were 8.62 million cows in February 2015, 2,000 head more than in January 2015 and 106,000 head more than in February 2014. Production per cow averaged 1,757 pounds, up 8 pounds vs. a year earlier. This is the highest production per cow for the month of February since the 23-state series began in 2003, NASS says. This comparison is based upon all months of February being adjusted to 28 days, NASS says.

California led the nation’s milk production with 3.27 billion pounds of milk in February, down 3.8 percent from its production a year earlier. The number of dairy cows in California in February totaled 1.78 million head, down 1,000 head from a month earlier and down 2,000 head from a year earlier. Production per cow in California averaged 1,840 pounds in February, a drop of 70 pounds compared to February 2014.

Wisconsin followed with 2.21 million pounds of milk produced in February, a gain of 4.3 percent vs. its production a year earlier. There were 1.28 million cows on Wisconsin farms in February, NASS reports, 1,000 head more than the previous month and 6,000 head more than a year earlier. Production per cow in Wisconsin in February averaged 1,730 pounds, up 65 pounds from a year earlier.

CMN


Cheese prices hold steady but weakness is anticipated

March 13, 2015

By Alyssa Mitchell

MADISON, Wis. — While domestic demand for cheese has been strong, global fundamentals could put pressure on the market in the coming weeks, dairy analysts say.

“Buying interest for cheese in the Upper Midwest is strong, even stronger than recent weeks for some plants,” says USDA’s Dairy Market News.

“Some plants have thin inventory levels because they have been selling almost all of what they have made, which is why buying more milk is necessary to meet last-minute new orders for cheese,” Dairy Market News adds.

Cheddar barrels at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) have increased since the end of February, climbing 7 cents Monday through Wednesday of this week before dropping 2 cents Thursday to settle at $1.5450 per pound, where they remained today.

CME Cheddar blocks, which were at $1.5450 per pound Feb. 20-March 3, have increased over the past week an additional 2.5 cents to $1.5700 per pound.

“Sub-$1.60 is a pretty comfortable number for people who have aging programs to put cheese away,” notes Sara Dorland, managing partner with Ceres Dairy Risk Management LLC, Seattle. “Generally speaking, dairy product export interest was starting to pick up, commercial disappearance numbers look good, so the consumption outlook is looking good.”

However, Dorland says cheese prices could recede soon due to the strength of the U.S. dollar and anticipated growth in milk production as the market enters the spring flush season.

Dave Kurzawski, senior broker with FCStone, Chicago, notes February’s Milk Production report showed a milk production increase of 2.1 percent nationally (see chart and article in the Feb. 27 issue of Cheese Market News). While California’s numbers were lower, the decrease was nearly offset by strong numbers in Wisconsin and Idaho.

Expect milk receipts to remain substantial moving forward, he says.

Steady to higher milk flows are tending to flow into cheese production, he adds, and the approaching spring flush could be the catalyst to soften prices.

“Good domestic demand underpinned CME cheese over the past two months and provided relative stability around the $1.50 mark,” Kurzawski says. “They’re not done, and the slight uptick in prices is consistent with price buyer behavior we’re seeing so far this month.”

He notes there are two important factors to consider moving forward: How much future demand did buyers pull forward at today’s rather comfortable price level, and how will promotional activity fair this spring?

“Buyers have pulled a good deal of deferred demand forward in favor of today’s pricing, and I suspect that U.S. promotions will be somewhat sluggish in the next 30-60 days as retailers look to make up lost ground from 2014,” Kurzawski says. “Both factors ought to limit upside momentum in March.”

Mike McCully, owner of The McCully Group LLC, Chicago, notes that after February, when cheese prices didn’t move much all month, it seems any movement in cheese prices is something to talk about.

“But I don’t think the underlying fundamentals have changed much, if at all,” he says. “Production is higher and exports are down from a year ago. Retail demand doesn’t appear to be that strong, so the buy-side interest has probably been more to do with pipeline refilling and inventory building.”

Cheese stocks are not burdensome, and the market seems to be pretty well-balanced, he adds.

“Since the first of the year, I’ve thought cheese prices would be $1.50 give or take 10 or 15 cents,” McCully says. “I continue to believe that and expect some weakness in the second quarter with prices dipping into the $1.40s and maybe even the $1.30s for short stretches of time. For now, the potential for additional upside in prices is low.”

Robin Schmahl, commodity broker and owner of AgDairy LLC, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, adds that “memories are vivid” from last year’s record-high cheese prices and buyers would rather pay $1.55 or so now even if the price declines during spring flush rather than face the possibility of paying $2 or more as they did last year.

“This pattern will continue until buyers are satisfied and comfortable with ownership,” he says. “Buying interest could then dry up a bit.”

The spring flush for milk production is expected to put some pressure on milk prices as buyers of cheese may have their needs satisfied and more product will be available, Schmahl adds.

“Exports continue to lag and will not be much help in absorbing increased milk production,” he says. “I see the flush being higher than usual this year due to lower milk prices and the desire to increase production because of it. Cow numbers continue to increase despite higher slaughter as more replacements are available.”

Kurzawski says that from today’s vantage point, he doesn’t see any way around a really robust spring flush.

“That doesn’t have to slam prices lower, but it may keep a lid on prices all year as we move that milk through the system,” he says.

Meanwhile, CME nonfat dry milk (NDM) and butter continue to move lower — particularly NDM, which fell below $1 again this week to settle at $0.9925 per pound today.

“We’ve got huge powder inventories and more milk on the way, and the New Zealand drought-fueled buying of February is over,” Kurzawski says. “Expect lower pricing through flush barring any significant change in global demand.”

Dorland notes that overseas markets including Europe and New Zealand are showing some cracks in their whole milk powder futures markets, something that likely is being absorbed into the U.S. milk powder markets.

“Buyers may be stepping out of the market,” she says.

Some manufacturers are reporting NDM stocks have increased over year-ago levels, Dairy Market News says.

“The market tone is mixed. Some NDM inventories are offered as manufacturers dry additional amounts of available milk supplies,” Dairy Market News says. “Demand is growing slightly as right now second-quarter contract negotiations are under way.”

In the butter market, inventories are beginning to build following Easter demand, which is largely accounted for, Schmahl says.

“Butter appears to be in a sideways price range,” he says. “Inventories are growing rapidly, which will have longer-term implications, but for now, buyers are content to build inventory, keeping the price choppy.”

CME butter moved upward in the first week of March, reaching $1.78 per pound March 2, but the price has weakened since then, moving as low as $1.6950 to close out this week.

McCully says the conclusion of Easter/Passover buying should lead to softer butter prices going into the spring.

“However, with stocks still relatively tight, the downside appears to be limited at this point,” he says. “I expect prices to trade in the $1.60s with the $1.50s likely with additional stocks growth. My downside expectations have been tempered by the weakness in California milk and butter output, although the recent figure for exports in January was decidedly bearish.”

Looking ahead, analysts say the strength of the U.S. dollar will continue to hinder dairy export prospects for the United States.

McCully notes that last fall, when U.S. prices were significantly above European Union and Oceania prices — particularly for cheese and butter — currency did not factor into the equation.

“However, with global prices for dairy products more aligned over the last couple months, the strength of the U.S. dollar is a disadvantage to U.S. suppliers,” he says. “With a U.S. interest rate increase coming at some time, that will only further strengthen the dollar against currencies in other countries with weaker economic prospects.

Therefore, U.S. exporters will be less competitive in making deals with buyers in other countries. With lower exports, stocks will likely build, thereby pushing prices lower.”

Schmahl agrees, noting it will take lower U.S. dairy prices to be competitive in the export market.

As long as there is not a debilitating weather factor abroad or game-changing surge in demand due to an unforeseen force, it is reasonable to expect the U.S. dollar to hinder export deals on most dairy products, Kurzawski notes.

“The likelihood of higher U.S. interest rates, the U.S. recovery and cheapening rates in Japan and Europe, among other nations, are helping the dollar and hurting U.S. exports,” he says.

CMN

 


China’s dairy demand brings
opportunity for U.S. partners

March 13, 2015

By Rena Archwamety

MADISON, Wis. — For many years now, the U.S. dairy industry has watched China’s appetite for dairy products grow and present increased opportunities for U.S. companies to export dairy powders and other products. As China’s demand for dairy continues, some companies are looking beyond just exporting and starting to form closer partnerships through joint ventures with Chinese investors.

Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group (Yili), one of China’s largest dairy companies, announced in November that it would join its U.S. supply partner Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) in building a $100 million milk powder plant in Kansas that will supply products to the Chinese and other global markets. And the new Billy Sims-China Food Group, owned in-part by former Detroit Lions running back Billy Sims, recently announced plans to build a $180 million dairy plant in northern Michigan that will be partially financed by Chinese investors and will produce whole and skim milk powder specifically for export to China.

“The growth of Chinese import demand has attracted more U.S. exporters,” says Alan Levitt, vice president of communications, U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

Levitt notes that from 2009-2013, China’s dairy imports increased approximately 24 percent per year, and U.S. exports to China increased about 16 percent per year from 2009-2013. Last year, China’s import growth slowed to about 6 percent, and U.S. exports to China were flat.

Levitt says one challenge of exporting to China is that the market is not very transparent, so it can be volatile.
“We saw this in 2014, when Chinese buyers over-bought, then stopped buying, resulting in a price crash,” he says.
However, future demand for dairy imports is expected to be strong, and Levitt says USDEC predicts that China will need to continue to import 20-30 percent of its needs.

“Retail dairy sales are projected to post double-digit annual increases for the rest of the decade,” Levitt says. “As long as China’s economy continues to grow and consumer purchasing power continues to increase, they’ll consume more dairy. If U.S. suppliers continue to target products for the China market, they should get their share of growth.”

• Seeking partners

DFA entered into a supply agreement with Yili in 2013, and now the U.S. and Chinese dairy giants are in the process of strengthening their relationship with the new ingredients plant.

DFA declined to comment on its joint venture with Yili as the project still is being finalized. However, Jay Waldvogel, DFA’s senior vice president, strategy and international development, gave a presentation on the joint venture during last month’s USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum.

In his presentation, Waldvogel noted that China has 22 percent of the world’s population, but only 7 percent of the farmland and 3 percent of the fresh water. This makes food and dairy production in China expensive.

“For dairy in particular, it’s always going to be cheaper to import milk powder than produce milk domestically,” Levitt says of China’s demand for dairy products. “In addition, China would like to diversify its supply; buyers don’t want to be so dependent on New Zealand. So they’d like to buy from the United States.”

In his presentation on the joint venture with China, Waldvogel highlighted DFA’s approach of entering markets where it can compete, focusing on volume growth and “premiumization,” and building lasting relationships with like-minded businesses.

Sims says his company saw an opportunity in exporting dairy to China when he and business partner David “Chief” Tomby, who previously worked on developing real estate, spoke with some Chinese investors about opportunities to export food to China.

“We found there were a lot of things China needed as we talked with people, traders and various companies in China,” Sims says. “China has a lot of people, but a small amount of land. And (Chinese businesses) want to deal with one company, not a lot of different ones.”

In the beginning stages, Billy Sims-China Food Group plans to focus on whole milk powder, skim milk powder and whey protein, and eventually create a food hub that will branch out to snack foods, soft drinks and salad dressings for the Chinese market. The company also is looking into exporting alfalfa and feedstuffs. Until its dairy plant is built, it will contract with other dairy processors to create products for its private label.

Sims says his company is looking to have Chinese as well as U.S. partners for each product in the food hub. The company is close to establishing a partnership with one U.S. dairy company and also has been working with a buying partner in China. He hopes that both partners will join Billy Sims-China Food Group in financing the manufacturing facility.

The company is interested in hearing from cheese and dairy processors who are seeking opportunities in the Chinese market, as well as interested investors, he says.

• Hot commodities

The appetite for dairy products in China has been surging for the last 10 years or so, says Kevin Zhang, director of China operations for Billy Sims-China Food Group. Zhang, who has worked in global sourcing for 15 years and has helped other U.S. companies market their brands in China, says food in China, like many other consumer products, is going through a profound cultural transformation.

“Traditional Chinese diets are more starch and vegetable-based foods. They’re really being replaced by a more protein- and meat-based diet as people start to realize that we as human beings need to have protein,” Zhang says.

“This cultural transformation really opens a huge opportunity for the American dairy industry,” he says. “The U.S. opportunity for exporting milk powder, cheeses and yogurt is growing at record speed ... so many people desire dairy products.”

Levitt says demand for dairy in China is driven in large part by demographics — increased population, increased spending power, more urbanization and westernization of diets. Additionally, government programs in China have started to encourage more dairy consumption and there is a greater recognition of the health and wellness benefits of dairy. Many Chinese consumers also still don’t trust the domestic dairy supply since the 2008 melamine crisis and would prefer to buy imports.

Most of what the United States exports to China is dry ingredients such as whey, lactose and nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP), Levitt says.

“Besides ingredients, in recent years we’ve also sold significantly more cheese, whole milk powder, butterfat and fluid milk,” he says, adding that prior to 2009, U.S. exports of these products to China were negligible.

However, there are challenges as the Chinese market is very competitive.

“New Zealand dominates the market, so suppliers have to give Chinese buyers a reason to switch,” Levitt says. “In addition, there are the usual challenges when selling overseas: consumer taste preferences may be different, packaging requirements may be different, etc.”

Zhang says in China when people think about cheese, they often think more about Europe, Australia or New Zealand.

“We here have to do a better job of promoting American dairy products and their nutritional value,” he says. “Chinese love milk products period. We need to promote our dairy industry there. That’s something we believe Billy Sims Group is in a position to do.”

He says a large part of what will make trading activities successful is having Chinese partners who can help to be the “eyes and ears on the ground” to know what consumers want and need.

“Some people think they will sell to China because they need it,” he says. “We want to create a win-win. When we export product, we want it to be both needed and desirable in the Chinese market. A partner in China would be good, and there are many possibilities.”

CMN


New Zealand dairy industry gets contamination threat

March 13, 2015

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) this week announced it is working closely with the country’s police to respond to a criminal threat to contaminate infant and other formula in an apparent protest over the use of Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) in pest control.

The New Zealand Police report that anonymous letters were received by Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November 2014, accompanied by small packages of milk powder which subsequently tested positive for the presence of a concentrated form of the 1080 poison. The letters threatened to contaminate infant and other formula with 1080 unless New Zealand stopped using it for pest control by the end of March 2015. The writer threatened to disclose the threat publicly if the government did not meet the demand by this time.

Police say while it’s possible the threat could be a hoax, it is being taken very seriously, and they are working with MPI and other agencies to identify those responsible. Police say an investigation team has been pursuing a range of leads behind the scenes and is advising the public now because the investigation is at a point where the public’s assistance is being sought to identify those responsible for the threat. The police add that they also were mindful of the very high risk of copycats should the nature of the threat be made public and needed to ensure measures were in place for this.

MPI says it is confident New Zealand infant and other formula is as safe now as it was before the threat was made and has encouraged citizens to keep using formula as they always have. Since the threat was made, MPI says the government, manufacturers and retailers have worked together to put additional layers of security in place so consumers can continue using infant formula with confidence. This includes: added security at infant and other formula factories and at retail stores; extended milk and milk product testing, including a new 1080 testing program; increased vigilance throughout the supply chain; and an audit program to confirm dairy processing facilities continue to maintain the highest level of security and vigilance.

“This criminal threat is designed to cause fear in order to generate a political outcome. It is using food as a vehicle but should not undermine confidence in our world-class food safety system or in any manufacturer,” says MPI Deputy Director-General Scott Gallacher.

Fonterra issued a statement this week acknowledging the announcement and saying the criminal threat targeted New Zealand and the entire dairy industry.

“We can fully assure our customers and consumers that all of our milk and products are safe and of high quality, and our supply chain continues to be secure and world-class. We are playing our part in helping the government manage the criminal threat, as is the rest of the dairy industry,” says Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings.

“We have taken immediate and decisive steps to give our customers and consumers added confidence — including increased testing and security measures,” Spierings adds.

Federated Farmers, a union representing several of New Zealand’s agricultural sectors including dairy, also confirmed it received the threat and says it has closely collaborated with MPI and other government agencies to assist in their responses.

Federated Farmers President William Rolleston says the letter is of extremely serious concern, but he is confident that regulatory authorities and processors have created formidable barriers to any such threat being carried out.

“It’s evident that the security surrounding dairy processing in New Zealand is second to none and the tamper proofing of the product is also first class,” he says.

CMN


FAPRI 10-year outlook projects lower farm income

March 13, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Declining net farm incomes, reduced livestock prices and heightened government expenditures for new farm programs will be issues that affect agriculture in coming years, according to the 2015 baseline projection developed by economists at the University of Missouri.

The 2015 10-year baseline projections were developed by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and the Agricultural Markets and Policy (AMAP) team at the University of Missouri, which also collaborated with researchers at other institutions.

The baseline incorporates effects of the most recent farm bill. The analysis requires assumptions about producers’ responses to new farm program options, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. As more information on program enrollments becomes available, these assumptions and estimates will be revisited, economists note.

The projections reported by FAPRI represent the average of 500 alternative outcomes based on various assumptions about weather, oil prices and other production factors.

Lower prices have resulted in a large decline in crop producer income and could result in significant federal spending under new programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill, the baseline notes. After reaching record levels in 2014, most livestock sector prices are expected to decline in 2015. As a result, net farm income is projected to fall sharply.

Milk, hog and poultry prices all are projected to decline in 2015 as producers respond to lower feed costs and the record output prices of 2014 by significantly increasing production, the baseline says.

“Farm income in 2015 is expected to be down by about 27 percent from the 2014 level,” says Pat Westhoff, FAPRI director. “Costs of production have maybe moderated a little bit, but we’ve seen a big drop in receipts for both livestock and crops.”

Westhoff notes after several years seeing strong prices for agricultural commodities, there will be more of a challenge in the next few years. He says it will be more important for producers to think about ways to keep down costs and maintain results as best they can.

“Risk management will be more important than it has ever been before because of that,” he says.

Westhoff notes the need for producers to make the right decisions for their operations under the 2014 Farm Bill. Unlike the former farm programs where payments were more or less fixed each year, now programs are very sensitive to market conditions, he says.

U.S. milk production is projected to reach 211.3 billion pounds in 2015, up from 206.0 billion pounds in 2014.

The baseline projects U.S. milk production will reach 215.0 billion pounds in 2016 and climb steadily throughout the projection period to 236.8 billion pounds by 2024.

The U.S. dairy herd added 100,000 cows, an increase of 1.1 percent, during 2014, the baseline notes. FAPRI projects there will be 9.36 million cows on U.S. dairy farms in 2015, up from 9.26 million in 2014. The dairy cow herd is projected to increase again in 2016 but taper off over several years before beginning to climb again in 2021 to reach 9.37 million head in 2024.

Milk production per cow increased by 2.0 percent in 2014, the second-highest growth in yields since 2005, the baseline notes. Milk per cow is projected to reach 22,567 pounds in 2015, up from 22,259 pounds in 2014.

FAPRI says milk per cow is projected to again increase in 2016 to 22,886 pounds and will climb steadily throughout the projection period to 25,270 pounds by 2024.

Meanwhile, international dairy product prices decreased for most of 2014 as demand weakened and milk supplies recovered in many exporting nations, the baseline notes.

U.S. product prices remained well above international levels for much of 2014, allowing for a record-high all-milk price near $24 per hundredweight, the baseline says. However, U.S. prices have begun to decline in recent months as markets catch up to the international supply and demand situation and domestic milk supplies increase.

The baseline notes input costs are projected to decline further in 2015, but an even larger drop in projected milk prices will cause 2015 profitability levels to be more in line with the historical average.

The milk price outlook depends upon the strength of international demand for dairy products, the baseline notes.

The baseline projects an average all-milk price of $17.59 per hundredweight in 2015, down from $23.97 in 2014. The all-milk price is projected to average $17.55 in 2016 before climbing throughout the projection period to average 19.19 in 2024.

Average prices for 40-pound cheese blocks at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) are projected to average $1.59 per pound in 2015, down from $2.11 in 2014. The baseline projects another drop in 2016 to $1.57 before climbing to $1.71 by 2020-2023 before dropping to $1.70 in 2024.

Average prices for CME butter are projected to fluctuate throughout the projection period, dropping to $1.52 per pound this year from $2.16 in 2014, and then moving between $1.40 and $1.48 through 2024.

CME NDM is projected to average $1.23 in 2015, down from $1.74 in 2014. The baseline projects the NDM price will steadily increase from $1.32 in 2016 to $1.51 by 2024.

The baseline has some good news for consumers. For the past several years, food price inflation has been faster than overall inflation in the U.S. economy. However, economists expect that to change course in 2015 and 2016, Westhoff says.

“Food price inflation should be less this year, and in 2016 could be even less than the overall rate of inflation,” he says.

In 2015, food price inflation is expected to drop to 1.6 percent. Between 2016 and 2024, food price inflation is projected at an average of 2 percent per year, the baseline says.

For more information or to view the report, visit www.fapri.missouri.edu.

CMN


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Today's Cheese Spot Trading
March 27, 2015


Barrels: $1.5450 (+2 1/2)
Blocks: $1.5400 (+3/4)


Click here for more market activity
Cheese Production
U.S. Total Jan.
980.127 mil. lbs.


Milk Production
23 State Total Feb.
15.149 bil. lbs.

Guest Columnist

Fixing the right problem
the right way

Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation

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