LYNDEN, Wash.—An 11-cent price run-up since the start of March pushed block cheese up to $1.60 per pound on March 9. The price is the highest paid at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange since Oct. 27, 2003.
Multiple factors are driving the increase, industry watchers said. According to Dairyline.com, the somewhat mild winter and the onset of spring did not boost milk production as expected, sub-optimal feed quality has hindered per-cow output, and steady slaughter numbers continue to reduce the U.S. dairy herd. Additionally, the Web site of E.Dairy, Inc. reported that prices Class III milk futures contracts are well above five- and 10-year averages.
In his PizzaMarketplace column, Jerry Dryer, editor of Dairy & Food Market Analyst, predicted block prices could peak at $1.80 this year, before falling to a sustainable $1.50 per pound.