• Number of cheese promos rise as prices fall

LYNDEN, Wis. -- With block prices ($1.14 as of June 11) at their lowest since Feb 6, 2001, restaurant chains and supermarkets are "cheesing" the moment by running cheese-heavy product promotions.

According to Dairyline.com, Pizza Hut expects its Insider Pizza promo (each pizza uses a full pound of cheese) will boost the chain's average summer-month mozzarella usage from 28 percent, from 25 million pounds to 33 million pounds. In mid-spring, the 210-store Mazzio's pizza chain rolled out its own pound o' cheese promo with its Hot and Heavy campaign.

Dairy market analyst Jerry Dryer told Dairyline.com that Burger King is rumored to be ready for a major promotion, and that McDonald's likely will follow suit should its closest rival take the lead.

Among retail cheese sellers, the Kroger supermarket chain is expected to launch a large promotion as well.

Will such usage lower inventories enough to raise prices? Dryer said not in the near future.

"With (mozzarella) production up and sales about flat, it can only spell bearish news for the markets," he said.

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