LYNDEN, Wash. -- Sharp increases in the production of mozzarella cheese points toward a strong demand for pizza, according to dairy market analyst Jerry Dryer.
The USDA's latest Dairy Products production report showed a 6 percent increase in mozzarella manufacturing over the comparable period last year. Cheddar production, by contrast, was off 3.2 percent.
Dryer believes there's only one explanation for the increase.
"You pretty much produce mozzarella for one reason: pizza," said Dryer, editor of Dairy & Food Market Analyst newsletter. "And you don't tend to make mozzarella unless you're going to have demand for it" because of its brief shelf life.
In a Sept. 9 Dairyline.com report, Dryer pointed out that mozzarella cheese output in California alone was up nearly 17 percent as mega-plants operated by Leprino Foods and Land O' Lakes came online during the period. He also said mozzarella production increased in New York and Wisconsin.
Why the increased demand for pizza? Tis the season, he said.
"The whole category kind of picks up steam as you go back to school," Dryer said. "For some reason, pizza isn't a summer time food for a lot of people. I suppose people go for burgers on the backyard grill instead."