Commodities: Most brands see sunny end to September in trading, fuel prices

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Most brands see sunny end to September in trading, fuel prices

Except for Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands' less-than-appetizing trading price trend, the last week of September was a fairly profitable one for the major pizza brands watched by Pizza Marketplace. Meanwhile, the prices paid for essential commodities were mostly mixed, with some good news on the delivery vehicle fuel front for those with regular grade-fueled fleets. 


Cheese traders are seeing healthy prices these days, with the average price paid for the essential pizza topping coming in at $1.74 at the close of trading Friday. That's up 13 cents from the previous week's close of $1.61. 


Compared with last week, wheat prices were mixed, and mostly 4 cents to 23 cents higher, according to the USDA Agricultural Market News. December Chicago wheat took a minor, short-term, trend downward. 

Weekly export sales and shipments for wheat showed a total of 16 million bushels and 15.6 million bushels, respectively, for the 2017–2018 marketing year. These numbers could be viewed as bearish for wheat, the news service said. 

Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter ordinary protein rail bid was 1 1/2 cents lower to 23 1/2 cents higher, at $4.63–$5.83 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 13 cents lower to 2 cents higher, at $4.25–$4.45 per bushel.

Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring 14 to 14.5 percent protein rail was 35 3/4 cents higher, at $7.35–$7.45 per bushel. Portland U.S. Soft White rail was 4 1/2 cents to 15 cents higher, at $5.25–$5.42 per bushel.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Good news on the increasingly busy delivery front for pizza restaurateurs: The price of regular-grade gasoline is trending lower and is expected to continue in that direction for a while.

Though still about 30 cents a gallon more than last year at this time, the average price paid for a gallon of regular gasoline this morning was down to $2.55 on average in the U.S., lower for both the week and month, but above last year's price of $2.22 a gallon. 

The cost of higher fuel grades have not followed this trend, though. The average prices paid for mid-grade and premium grade fuel were $2.83 and $3.08, respectively. Those two grades last month were $2.79 and $3.03. 

Diesel also trended upward, with an average price of $2.73 per gallon — up 10 cents from the previous month and up 17 cents from the previous year, when it was $2.36 per gallon. 

Natural gas

Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations for the report week (Wednesday, Sept. 20 to Wednesday, Sept. 27). The Henry Hub spot price fell from $3.14 per million British thermal units last Wednesday to $2.95 per MMBtu a week later.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the October 2017 contract expired yesterday at $2.974 per MMBtu. The November 2017 contract price decreased to $3.061 per MMBtu, down 9 cents Wednesday to Wednesday.

Net injections to working gas totaled 58 billion cubic feet for the week ending Sept. 22. Working natural gas stocks are 3,466 Bcf, which is 4 percent less than the year-ago level and 1 percent more than the five-year (2012–2016) average for this week. 

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose by 40 cents, averaging $8.03 per MMBtu for the week ending Sept. 27. The price of natural gasoline, ethane, propane, butane, and isobutane rose 4, 1, 7, 6 and 5 percent, respectively.

According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Friday, Sept. 22, the natural gas rig count increased by 4 to 190. The number of oil-directed rigs fell by 5 to 744. The total rig count decreased by one and now stands at 935. 

Pizza company stocks

After a big dip in prices Monday, most pizza stock prices rebounded last week to beat the previous week. Yum Brands, parent of Pizza Hut, was the sole exception last week. 

Domino's closed the week on the New York Stock Exchange at $198.55, up from $197.19 at the previous week's close. Yum Brands took a punch in trading last week as prices fell to $73.61, down from the previous week's close of $75.96. 

News from the NASDAQ was better last week for Papa John's and Papa Murphy's. Papa John's closed Friday at $73.07, up from $72.98 the previous week. Papa Murphy's finished the trading week at $5.95, up 21 cents at $5.74. 

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Equipment & Supplies, Financial Management, Financial News, Food & Beverage, Insurance / Risk Management, Operations Management, Trends / Statistics

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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