CHICAGO -- The USDA said it predicts wholesale cheese prices will remain unsettled over the next two months, but according to its most recent dairy report, "large changes are not expected."
During the last two weeks of November, cheese prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange crept upward from a 10-month low of $1.16 per pound on the 16th, to a $1.35 on the 27th.
The sharp price declines that hit the market in early September, the report said, were due to the effects of the nation's economic slowdown. Milk production also was slowly returning to year-earlier levels, and pipeline stocks of cheese were unusually large.
Following the events of Sept. 11, the abrupt drop in buying for restaurant and travel-related use precipitated further price declines, allowing a greater build-up of pipeline stocks.
Warehouse stocks of cheese posted a relatively large decline during October as holiday buying began.
On Dec. 3, 40-pound blocks of cheddar cheese traded at $1.30 per pound on the CME.