No relief for cheese prices

Cheese prices continue to climb and are more than 30 cents higher than they were a month ago. Wheat prices, however, continue to fall, and gas prices are letting up as well.


Cheese prices have shown no signs of letting up, jumping 6 more cents last week on the Chicago Mercantile to average $2.21. The week prior, cheese averaged $2.15, and they were $1.89 in early December.

Last week, prices closed at $2.20 Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, $2.22 on Thursday and $2.23 on Friday.


Conversely, wheat prices continued to fall last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange and are at their lowest level in years, averaging $6.18, from $6.27 the week prior.

Wheat was more than $7.50 two months ago.

Prices closed at $6.17 Monday, $6.21 Tuesday, $6.14 Wednesday, $6.24 Thursday and $6.17 on Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

The nationwide average price for regular unleaded fuel today is $3.28, down from $3.31 the week prior. According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.23.

Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.30 at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.46, also down from $3.49 the week prior. Premium gas is $3.63, from $3.66 last week.

Diesel fuel prices are averaging $3.85, from $3.86 the week prior. The price of diesel fuel was $3.84 a month ago and $3.89 last year.

Natural gas

Natural gas spot prices increased in most of the country, with the exception of the Northeast, where prices decreased sharply from the week prior's weather-driven highs. The Henry Hub spot price increased from $4.35 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) Jan. 8, to $4.44/MMBtu Jan. 15.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the February 2014 contract rose from $4.216/MMBtu Jan. 8 to $4.325/MMBtu Jan. 15.

Pizza company stocks

Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed out last week at $72.30, down from $75.05 the week prior. The company hit a new 52-week high in November, at $78.68. Its 52-week low was in early February 2013, at $59.68.

Following its Analyst Day, Domino's finished last week at $71.08, up from $70.28 the week prior. DPZ hit a new 52-week high last week at $71.97. Its 52-week low was $44.45 a year ago.

Papa John's shares finished last week at $47.39, up from $46.14 the week prior. PZZA hit a new 52-week high of $47.90 earlier last week. Its low of $24.94 was a year ago.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $54.75 following official news of its sale to Apollo Global Management. The week prior, the company closed at $49.56. CEC hit a new 52-week-high last week at $55.03. Its annual low was a year ago at $28.95.

Pizza Inn Holdings closed out last week at $8.09, up from $7.98 the week prior. The company's 52-week-high was $9.18 in May. It traded as low as $3.03 a year ago.

Read more about food cost management.

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