Dairy’s Balancing Act

Milk production fizzles, ice cream sales soar in summer heat.
Farmers across the Midwest reportedly have been using everything this summer from electric fans to cold showers to keep their livestock from wilting in the oppressive heat, which is blamed for killing at least 1,200 head of cattle in Nebraska alone.
Production is slumping as a result. In fact, dairy farmers near the Ohio-Michigan state line have reported losing approximately $350 daily because cows are making about 10 pounds less milk per day, not to mention the extra cost of running more fans in the barns and providing more water.
According to the USDA-AMS Dairy Market News June report, recent hot and humid weather throughout the nation is impeding milk production. Northern sections of the country are being affected to a lesser extent than southern areas, especially as cooler temperatures resume in the North. Reduced milk volumes from the farm are being compensated by increased milk volumes available from school closures. Promotional efforts in the Midwest are not enhancing Class I sales, resulting in burdensome milk volumes trading at a discount in the region; Class II interest in fluid milk is seasonally increasing. Heavier production of ice cream and bottled cream for strawberry season is noted. As a result, cream supplies are tightening and multiples are higher.
On the brighter side, Reuters reports sizzling summer temperatures across the United States have sent flocks of consumers to their local ice cream parlors, driving up sales of frozen treats from sunny California to the muggy East Coast. Ice cream shop chains like Baskin-Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery, Carvel, Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs have reported soaring sales in recent weeks, while sales at independent ice cream parlors also are booming.  
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When Tillamook Cheese and McCormick & Schmick’s restaurants put out a call for unique homemade macaroni and cheese recipes earlier this year, it was anyone’s guess at how varied the recipes would be. Now the results are in, and the answer is that macaroni and cheese dishes can be very different from one another, with regional differences apparent as well. Hundreds of recipes were submitted for the 2005 Macaroni & Cheese Recipe Contest, featuring ingredients ranging from crab and bacon to jalapeño peppers and apples. Finalists were selected in each region based on taste and creativity of their dishes, and competed in a cook-off in front of a judging panel of local culinary experts. During May and June, cook-off events were held in San Jose, Calif.; Denver; Dallas; and Phoenix. Entries in Northern California focused heavily on shrimp, crab and other seafood, with a fresh and natural flair. The winning recipe in San Jose was Priscilla Yee’s “Kicked-Up Monterey Mac & Cheese,” featuring bay shrimp. In Denver, bacon, sausage and other meats were a common ingredient in many recipe submissions, but in the end the winner was Ann Jones for her “Cheesy Pasta & Lobster Bake Mac & Cheese.” The trend in Dallas was the use of unique spices and flavorings in otherwise fairly traditional macaroni and cheese recipes, with Brenden Mesch as the winner for his “Penne Rigate with Truffle Essence Macaroni & Cheese” recipe. Many Phoenix recipes had a spicy Southwest flair, as might be expected; Cheryl Hart with her “Ultimate Comfort Food Mac & Cheese” recipe was the winner there. For more information about the contest or copies of recipes from finalists and winners in each market, visit www.tillamookcontest.com.
Golden Guernsey Dairy has joined Milwaukee Recreation and several anti-hunger agencies to support Fueling Young Minds, a collaborative effort that provides free summer meals for Milwaukee’s youth. For no charge, the dairy cooperative will print the following message on every half-pint chocolate milk carton distributed in Milwaukee County from May through August: “Free Summer Meals for Milwaukee’s Youth: For the location nearest you, call 211 or (866) 211-3380.” The message will appear on 1.25 million cartons, with an estimated advertising value of $40,000. The Fueling Young Minds collaborative includes Milwaukee Recreation, the Milwaukee Public Schools Office of School Nutrition, Harley-Davidson Foundation, Hunger Task Force, IMPACT Inc., The Salvation Army and Social Development Commission. The partnership recently received a Milwaukee Award for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDI) for serving more than 382,000 meals to at-risk youth in the summer of 2004. The GG Golden Guernsey Dairy® brand is an integral part of Foremost Farms USA, a Wisconsin cooperative owned by 3,600 dairy farmers.
Kate’s Homemade Butter, Old Orchard Beach, Maine, has released a new package design for its premium butters. The new design emphasizes the company’s homemade quality and enhances product presence on the store shelf. More product information highlighting Kate’s Maine heritage, improved identification and the addition of measuring marks on the box are just a few design enhancements found on the new packaging. The company says the new four-color design reinforces the brand identity of its trademark —the adorable young Kate sporting a red kerchief, broad smile and overalls. The company uses pasteurized cream from New England dairy farms that pledge not to use artificial growth hormones. Kate’s butter does not contain artificial colors, preservatives or other additives.
Oakhurst Dairy, Portland, Maine, continues to honor Maine Army Reserve veterans returning from Iraq with “welcome home” messages printed on the company’s gallon-sized milk labels. Sgt. James Jollotta and Scott Caron, who are with the Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Battalion, returned in March from their year-long hitch in Mosul, Iraq. “My family and extended family of staff, employees and farmers are very happy that so many of the 133rd have returned home. And we’re so proud of and thankful for their service to our country,” says Stanley Bennett, president of Oakhurst Dairy. “Sharing our joy at their return by announcing it on our gallons of milk is just one small way we can express our pride and gratitude.”
The labels — which proudly display an American flag and say “Welcome Home! Sgt. James Jollotta, E4 Scott Caron Maine Army Reserve 133rd BN” — appear next to the nutrition information panel on gallons of Oakhurst Whole, 2%, 1 1/2%, 1% and Skim Milk.  The specially labeled milk is distributed throughout New England.
Montpelier, Vt.-based Cabot Creamery Cooperative has rolled out new labels for its cheese. The company says the new labels are meant to make the type of cheese, Cabot name and certifications such as kosher and lactose-free more easily identifiable. Also, the changeover to the new labels is considered a “soft conversion,” meaning old labels will be used up before all new labels appear. The changes, says Cabot, are meant to be subtle.
In June, US Club Soccer reached an agreement with Bravo Foods International Corp. for the North Palm Beach, Fla.-based company’s Slammers® brand of flavored milk beverages to become the Official Milk of US Club Soccer. Samples of the company’s Slammers products — including Slammers Starburst® Smoothies, Slammers Milky Way® reduced-fat chocolate milk and Slammers 3 Musketeers® lowfat chocolate milk — were distributed at certain US Club Soccer events. Other terms of the agreement included the displaying of Slammers Ultimate Milk signage and banners at US Club Soccer events, promotion of Slammers Ultimate Milk on US Club Soccer’s Web site and the inclusion of Slammers Ultimate Milk in US Club Soccer’s monthly email newsletter. In other promotional news, the company announced in July the launch of a new promotional program with Cagnazzi Racing. Consistent with the company’s recent national roll out of its Slammers milk drinks, Bravo Foods and Cagnazzi Racing agreed that the Slammers brand of flavored milk beverages would be the primary sponsor of Cagnazzi Racing’s Chevrolet Cobalt Pro Stock racecar, driven by fan favorite Erica Enders. The “Slammers Cobalt” debuted in Denver at the Mile-High Nationals July 15 to 17.
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