The following excerpt is from the USDA’s Dairy Market News for the week of May 19 to 23. Download the entire report here.

CHEESE HIGHLIGHTS: Cheese production is steady to increasing across most of the country. The spring flush across the northern tier of the country is bringing increased milk to cheese plants. Many plants are operating on busy to full schedules. Some surplus milk is also expected to be available for processing over the long holiday weekend.

Cheese inventories are building in many areas. Cheese demand remains steady with buyers expecting increasing supplies to become available. While wholesale prices have been declining over the past few weeks, this week saw some higher closing prices at the CME Group. Export demand is slowing as international prices are competitive with U.S. domestic prices.

Barrel prices at the CME Group closed Friday at $2.0200, up 6 cents from last Friday and blocks closed the week at $2.0200, up 2.25 cents from last week. NASS reported Cold Storage stocks as of April 30, 2014 for total natural cheese in storage at 1.037 billion pounds, 84.7 million pounds (8%) less than a year ago, but 18.3 million pounds (2%) more than March 2014.

Ice cream makers turn to lower-priced condensed skim from buttermilk

FLUID MILK: Manufacturing milk supplies heading into the Memorial Day holiday weekend are heavy. Strategies are in place to process surplus milk over the extended weekend. Milk demand for bottling is generally lower.

Milk production is building in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Utah and Idaho; steady in New Mexico, Arizona and California; and steady to easing along the East Coast. Cream supplies are tighter, with increased interest from ice cream manufacturers and some churns. There was a shift away from using condensed buttermilk to lower priced condensed skim by a number of ice cream manufacturers.