Cheese Lovers Newsletter (10.25.2020): How's the dairy economy right now?
Happy Sunday, Cheese Lovers!
Topics contained herein:
Best Cheese in MN https://us8.admin.mailchimp.com/campaigns/preview-content-html?id=4823046#BestCheese
Question of the week: How's the dairy economy? (https://us8.admin.mailchimp.com/campaigns/preview-content-html?id=4823046#QOTW)
BEST CHEESE IN MN - according to MN Monthly readers! (https://www.minnesotamonthly.com/food-drink/best-of-mn-2020-readers-choice/)
We meant to write this newsletter Friday morning, and then it was announced that we were named MINNESOTA’s BEST CHEESE by Minnesota Monthly Readers. WOW WOW WOW! What an honor! We’ve been named top-of-class, best artisan cheese in Minnesota (twice), and a number of second through tenth place finishes in national competitions in the Cheddar, Brie, American Originals, and other categories. But, we’re astonished that in our 6th year making cheese (continually since Halloween 2014) readers would have the audacity to place us above Minnesota industry icons like our friends at any of the other 15 or so artisan cheese companies, only a couple of whom are younger than us.
So, we owe you, voters, Minnesota Monthly Readers, and random internet clickers, for the votes! Thank you!
We cannot say THANK YOU enough for all our customers have done for us in 2020. We’ve experienced significant opportunity through our delivery and shipping business through the pandemic, while also seeing much smaller crowds on-site. Based on current interest and projections, we fear time is going to be short over the holidays as people create big gatherings at home. So, order your Thanksgiving (or even Christmas) platters as soon as you can if you want to be on the list. We fear with our staff will simply run out of time to put them together, so we’ll need to limit it by before Thanksgiving week.
If you’re thinking about December holidays already, you can throw those in as well as it will all run together. Platters are best consumed in 24-48 hours of pickup or delivery as the cheese loses moisture once cut. We typically make platters the night before or morning-of delivery.
Question of the week: How’s the dairy economy right now?
Answer: Good question. But very hard to answer accurately for all 2,200 Minnesota or 35,000 across the United States, much less those around the world. We’re at a very unique pricing scenario right now, plus have farms signed up for varying levels of revenue insurance and different weather conditions. Overall, the simple answer would say 2020 will end up being a decent year with much trepidation as to what the future holds. I (Lucas) am no national economic dairy expert, but let me play one for a few minutes with some hypothetical situations for you…
First, let’s look south to our friends in Iowa. A derecho (essentially a land hurricane) devastated crops, buildings and towns right before harvest and wiped out the crops on many farms in a dairy region. This is a huge deal because farmers like us and in Iowa utilize fermented feeds that are very wet (the moisture helps them ferment) and thus typically aren’t transported far.
Next, let’s look way southwest to California and Arizona. The pandemic hit as we were approaching summer. While in the Midwest April and May are known as the “spring flush” because there’s so much milk due to ideal conditions, this region sees a decline in milk due to the high summer temperatures. So they experienced low prices during a time when milk production was about to drop, and in some cases their processor mandated cutbacks – potentially losing 50% of their revenue month-to-month. Dairy farms often operate on 1% profit, so this kind of swing is substantial.
Now, let’s go farther west. We’re in New Zealand, which has one main cooperative processor, exports 90% of their dairy products and often helps set the world price as result. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a La Nina in 2021, which could result in drought in New Zealand. While this wouldn’t be good for any Kiwi farmers, it would likely send prices higher in the United States.
Finally, let’s move to the East Coast of the U.S. in Virginia. Prices look steady in November and December because China and other regions are buying products to stock up in case the pandemic again causes international shutdowns. This is good, but on the East Coast we mostly focus on getting fresh milk to the people. Cheese is made more-so in the Midwest and Southwest. So, if people don’t need fluid milk and instead want cheese, the general price of milk might be up but my processor might not be.
All that said, the 90% of our milk that goes to cheese in Minnesota has seen a good year between government support due to the pandemic, our own choices to buy insurance on our revenue, a good year for ourselves and processor in terms of no disasters (knock on wood – fires, accidents, crop-harming weather, having the right products for the pandemic, etc.). But as quickly as the listed conditions occurred over the past few months, they can change again.
Hopefully this helps you understand just a little more as to all the variables farms around the state and world might be reacting to and for which they aim to manage their risk. For us, we hope and so far think that making more farmstead artisan cheese will help us control our destiny. Thanks for being part of it.
That’s it for this week… have a great one!
Alise, Linda, Jerry and Lucas