Commodities: The cheese stands alone ... its higher prices week's only down news

Commodities: The cheese stands alone ... its higher prices week's only down news

It was a very nice send-off for pizza restaurateurs last week — the unofficial end of summer in the U.S. where Monday's Labor Day holiday will give traders a shortened week this week. Last week, the four major brands monitored by this site, all gained in value last week. And, of the top pizza-making and delivering commodities, only the price for cheese increased, while all other operational staples dipped in price in commodities trading the final week of August. 


Nationally, cheese production activity is steady to increasing, according to the U.S.D.A. Agricultural Marketing Service. Cheese stores are steady to slightly down, but generally available to meet ordering needs. Midwestern cheesemakers relay receiving requests from new and growing customer bases and overall, the cheese market tone is steadily bullish. 

The closing price for barrels was $1.6450 Friday, compared to the previous Friday's closing price of $1.6000. The closing price for blocks was $1.6950, compared to the previous week's close of $1.6700.


Compared to last week, cash bids for wheat were lower.  Total shipments plus outstanding sales of wheat for the 2018-2019 crop year are reported at 330 million bushels (mb) and 26 percent less than a year ago.  Last week's wheat shipments were lackluster and the latest report would be considered bearish for wheat, even though the new season's lower supplies could help U.S. wheat exports in the future.  

Wheat was from 3 cents to 25 1/4 cents lower. Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 25 1/4 cents lower, from $6.07-$6.22 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 24 cents lower, from $4.93-$4.98 per bushel. Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0 to 14.5 percent protein rail, was 8 to 38 cents lower, from $6.33 3/4-$6.63 3/4 per bushel. Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was 3 to 8 cents lower, from $6.00-$6.08 per bushel. 

Vehicle fuel

Despite the last hurrah of summer that is Labor Day weekend, gas prices remained fairly flat over the period, averaging $2.83 for regular and $3.38 for premium, about even with the previous week's prices, and 3 cents lower than last month at this time for both grades. 

At $2.40, E85 prices were 4 cents lower than the previous month, while the fluctuation was not as dramatic for diesel fuel, which averaged around $3.17 this morning. That's just about a penny off the price the previous month.     

Natural gas

Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations for the report week that ended on Wednesday, Aug. 29. Henry Hub spot prices fell from $2.99 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) to $2.96/MMBtu over that same period. 

At the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the September 2018 contract expired at $2.895/MMBtu. The October 2018 contract price decreased to $2.863/MMBtu, down 8 cents for the week. 

Net injections to working gas totaled 70 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ending Aug. 24. Working natural gas stocks are 2,505 Bcf, which is 21 percent lower than the year-ago level and 19 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 37 cents, averaging $9.37/MMBtu for the week ending Aug. 29. The price of natural gasoline, ethane, propane, butane, and isobutane all rose by 3, 1, 6, 5 and 6 percent, respectively.

According to Baker Hughes, for the seven days ending Tuesday, Aug. 21, the natural gas rig count decreased by four to 182. The number of oil-directed rigs fell by nine to 860. The total rig count decreased by 13, and it now stands at 1,044.

Pizza company stocks

Despite the turmoil of the filing of a stockholder class action against Papa John's and a founder-burning letter from the chain's current management to its stockholders, Papa John's still managed to get week No. 3 of stock price increases out of its investors. Friday, the chain closed at $46.12, up $1.42 from the previous week's closing price of $44.70. 

Meantime, Domino's also had a nice end-of-summer trading week, closing up 61 cents for the week at $298.56 on the New York Stock Exchange. Competitor and Yum Brands chain, Pizza Hut, had an even bigger Labor Day blow-out, sailing up in value a total of $2.75, to close the week at $86.89 on the NASDAQ. 

Finally, take-and-bake brand Papa Murphy's finished out Friday at $5.55, a 13-cent bump up from the previous week's closing value of $5.42. 

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Cheese, Delivery, Dough, Financial News, Operations Management

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Commodities: Down, down, down ... unless you're Papa John's