The following is excerpted from the USDA’s Dairy Market News for the week of May 12 to 16. Download the entire Dairy Market News here.

Cheese production across the U.S. is mixed

CHEESE HIGHLIGHTS: Cheese production across the U.S. is mixed. Some of the Southern regions are past peak milk production. Milk availability is varied sometimes within regions. The northern edge of the Central region is slow to show a spring flush this year, while much of the Midwest is experiencing increasing volumes. This is allowing plants that want to increase production, the ability to find additional milk at increasingly favorable prices on the spot market. Advertised U.S. cheese prices are slightly higher for many of the package varieties this week compared to two weeks ago. The National Dairy Retail Report had higher prices for four of the five categories. Spot cheese prices continue to show weakness with blocks and barrels at the CME Group moving below $2.0000 for the first time this year. The lower prices have some buyers looking to increase orders and build their own stocks. Export demand has slowed as international prices are more competitive to our market. Barrels at the CME Group closed Friday at $1.9600, down 6 cents from last Friday. Blocks closed the week at $1.9975, down 4.75 cents from the previous week.

Dry whey prices are variable, lactose market prices are weaker

DRY PRODUCTS: The tone of dry dairy products varies by commodity in the market. Prices in the nonfat dry milk market are trending lower throughout the regions. Most spot market buyers are still hesitant to develop transactions beyond immediate needs, although interests are improving. Production is active in the East, Central and West regions with higher milk intakes for most drying operations. Prices for dry buttermilk stepped lower across the country in a weakening market. Production rates are mixed and dependent upon manufacturers focus, as ice cream demand diverts cream volumes from the butter churns. Dry whey prices are variable. Buyer interest is steady spurred by a combination of export interest, ice cream manufacturing, and current accounts. The lactose market prices are weaker on the higher side of the range and mostly. Demand is uneven. Negotiations for Q3 contracts have begun for some trading partners. Whey protein concentrates 34% prices are unchanged to lower on a mixed market. Increasing milk supplies and whey stream solids are shifting WPC 34% production higher, with the level of demand dependent upon product characteristic.