Commodities: Cheese, wheat, auto fuel get pricier

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Cheese, wheat, auto fuel get pricier

Pizza restaurateurs seeking some cheerful news to lighten up the start of the work week won't find much help in the following report showing mostly growing commodities prices and falling stock values. But there is a slight hint of silver rimming the gray cloud in the form of a small lift in value for one pizza brand and overall lower natural gas prices. 

Cheese prices continued to sail upward, closing the week at their highest level since mid-November of last year. Friday's price at the close was $1.67, up 5 cents on the week and 11 cents over the past month's activity. 

Compared to last week, cash bids for wheat were higher. The USDA said last week's export sales and shipments of wheat totaled 8.6 mb and 10.4 mb respectively, another bearish showing that put total wheat shipments down 12 percent on the year. 

Wheat was 18 1/4 cents to 57 cents higher. Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 52 cents higher, from $6.43 3/4-$6.58 3/4 per bushel. Kansas City U.S. No. 2 Soft Red winter rail bid was not quoted.  

St. Louis truck U.S. No. 2 Soft Red Winter terminal bid was 51 to 57 cents higher, from $5.24-$5.46 per bushel.  Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0 to 14.5 percent protein rail, was 45 1/2 to 50 1/2 cents higher, from $7.95-$8.00 per bushel.  

Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was 18 1/4 to 19 cents higher, from $5.91-$6.08 1/4 per bushel.

Vehicle fuel

Natural gas

Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations for the report week that ended Wednesday, May 2. The Henry Hub spot price fell from $2.79 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) last Wednesday to $2.73/MMBtu yesterday.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the May 2018 contract expired last Thursday at $2.821/MMBtu. The June 2018 contract price decreased to $2.754/MMBtu, down 5 cent on the week. 

Net injections to working gas totaled 62 Bcf for the week that ended April 27. Working natural gas stocks are 1,343 Bcf, which is 40 percent lower than the year-ago level and 28 percent lower than the five-year (2013-17) average for this week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose by 42 cents, averaging $8.14/MMBtu for the week that ended on May 2. The price of ethane fell by 2 percent. The price of natural gasoline, propane, butane, and isobutane rose by 3, 9, 4 and 13 percent, respectively.

According to Baker Hughes, for the week that ended on Tuesday, April 24, the natural gas rig count increased by three to 195. The number of oil-directed rigs rose by five to 825. The total rig count increased by eight, and it now stands at 1021.

Pizza company stocks
After two weeks of big gains in value, Domino's Pizza last week ended down slightly from $246.42 the previous week's close to $248.24 last Friday. But that follows the stock's two-week run that put its value up more than $18. 

Yum Brands also took a tumble, and this one was a little more substantial. The brand ended trading Friday at $82.43, down $4.62 from the previous week's close of $87.05.

Papa John's followed that downward trend last week, ending trading Friday at $60.10, off $2.19 from the previous close of $62.29. In fact, of the brands monitored by this site, only Papa Murphy's showed a gain last week, up 11 cents over the course of the trading week to close Friday at $5.29.

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Cheese, Customer Service / Experience, Delivery, Dough, Equipment & Supplies, Financial Management, Financial News, Food & Beverage, Food Cost Management, Operations Management

Companies: Papa John's, Papa Murphy's, Yum! Brands, Pizza Hut, Domino's

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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