Download the complete Dairy Market News for the week of March 18 to 23, 2013.

DRY PRODUCTS: Some dry dairy markets regained confidence this week as news of higher international prices at the latest global Dairy Trade (gDT) auction caught the attention of buyers and sellers. Nonfat dry milk production remains heavy with producers holding inventories more confidently. High heat production is limited as plants are concentrating on low heat production. Dry buttermilk production is active with butter plants operating busy schedules. Inventories are building but held with increased confidence. Whey production is steady with spot sales into the export market helping to clear inventories. Block sales at discounted prices are being utilized to move product. Whey protein 34% prices were steady to lower this week. Lactose prices are improved for higher mesh products while unground and lower mesh products remain weak. Dry whole milk interest increased following the gDT auction. Casein prices are unchanged.

CHEESE HIGHLIGHTS: Cheese prices continued to push higher at the CME Group exchange this week. Higher than anticipated volumes of milk are being directed to cheese plants across the nation. Despite increased inventories of cheese, manufacturers are reporting good sales and are mostly comfortable with the added production. Increased interest from export markets is helping to clear inventories. Current U.S. prices are favorable against international prices. The CWT program is continuing to assist with export sales for eligible members. According to the Foreign Agricultural Service, imports of cheese for January-February 2013 total 22.9 million pounds, up 3.1% from a year ago. Advertised featuring of cheese was lower for most packages of cheese according to the National Dairy Retail Report. Prices at the retail level were mixed.

RETAIL DAIRY MARKET NEWS (DMN): The most advertised cheese category, 8 ounce shredded, has an increase in the weighted average advertised price of 1 cent, to $2.31. The price this year has been as high as $2.51. The second most advertised cheese category, 8 ounce blocks, declined in price 8 cents, to $2.34, The price this year has been as high as $2.52. Butter’s national weighted average advertised price for a 1 pound package decreased 29 cents to $2.50. Butter ad volume was up by 52%. Ad volume for all yogurt types and sizes declined, but 4-6 ounce Greek yogurt remains the most advertised yogurt product, with a price unchanged from two weeks ago, $1.00. The price of 4-6 ounce yogurt is up 1 cent to $.49. Yogurt in 32 ounce containers increased 7 cents to $2.43 while 32 ounce Greek yogurt declined $.66 to $3.95. The national weighted average advertised conventional milk price for half gallons this period, $1.35, decreased 42 cents from two weeks ago, following a 35 cent increase two weeks before that. Organic half-gallon prices averaged $3.65, up 25 cents from two weeks ago, following a previous 9 cent decrease. The resulting organic-conventional half-gallon price spread is $2.30, up 67 cents from two weeks ago.