Sales volume was down, but lower raw milk prices continued to boost Dean Foods’ income, according to the company’s quarterly investor call held this week.

Natzke dave
Editor / Progressive Dairy

Total sales volume across all Dean products was 658 million gallons for the fourth quarter of 2015, down 3.6 percent compared with the same quarter of 2014. Full-year 2015 volumes totaled 2.6 billion gallons, a 3.1 percent decline versus 2014. The company expects total volumes to decline in the low single digits for the first quarter of 2016.

Based on USDA total U.S. fluid milk sales data, Dean’s share of U.S. fluid milk volumes for the fourth quarter of 2015 was 34.7 percent, down slightly from the previous year.

The fourth quarter 2015 average Class I mover, a measure of Dean’s raw milk costs, was $16.34 per hundredweight (cwt), a 0.2 percent sequential decrease from the third quarter of 2015 and a 31 percent decrease from the fourth quarter of 2014. On a full-year basis, the average Class I mover was $16.34 per cwt, down 30 percent from 2014.

The first quarter 2016 average Class I mover of $14.49 per cwt represents a 11 percent decline from the previous quarter and a 14 percent year-over-year decline.


Raw milk bills introduced

Since January, bills have been introduced in several state legislatures that would loosen restrictions regarding intrastate sales of raw milk directly to consumers, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). Bills are currently pending in Hawaii, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Leprino Foods to begin next phase of Greeley, Colorado, plant

Leprino Foods may soon be ready to begin the next phase of its cheese manufacturing plant in east Greeley, Colorado, according to the Greeley Tribune. Construction of the facility began in 2010. Phase one and two are now complete. Phase three, with an estimated investment of more than $10 million, would include additional milk processing capacity and processing technology and equipment. At full operating capacity, the plant is expected to produce 700,000 pounds of cheese daily. Headquartered in Denver, Leprino Foods is the world’s largest processor of mozzarella cheese.

‘Wood’ in Parmesan cheese

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) legal action against a Pennsylvania cheese processor has turned into an Internet frenzy about how much "wood" is allowed in grated Parmesan cheese.

In 2012, FDA began investigating Castle Cheese Inc. of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, following reports the company was using substitutes and fillers in its product, but was labeling the product as 100 percent real Parmesan.

While allegations against Castle Cheese go far beyond use of additives, a Bloomberg News investigation focused on widespread use of cellulose, an FDA-approved additive used as a stabilizer, emulsifier, thickener, calorie reducer and anti-caking agent in foods.

In grated cheeses, the plant-based fiber is approved at levels of 2 to 4 percent to prevent clumping. In its investigation, Bloomberg purchased and tested several major varieties of grated Parmesan cheese, finding cellulose levels of 0.3 percent to 7.8 percent.

According to the report, the largest seller of hard Italian cheeses in the U.S., Arthur Schuman Inc., with New Jersey-based Schuman’s Fairfield, estimates 20 percent of U.S. production is mislabeled and less than 40 percent of grated cheese is actually a cheese product.

LaLa’s new marketing campaign

LaLa, Borden Dairy’s regional flagship brand better known in Latin America, launched a U.S. campaign focused on the brand's yogurt smoothies. The new marketing campaign introduces "yogurting," targeting a younger, active audience seeking on-the-go, drinkable yogurt available in a resealable bottle.

Blue Bunny launches re-branding campaign

Seeking to put the “fun” back in ice cream, Blue Bunny launched a re-branding campaign, including a new logo, product and packaging innovation, and an ambassador named “Blu.” The campaign includes ice cream in clear packaging, allowing consumers to see what's inside; the return of some Blue Bunny ice cream flavor favorites; and new novelty products. Blue Bunny Premium Ice Cream is owned and operated by the Wells family in Le Mars, Iowa.

Vermont’s Commonwealth Dairy to provide Greek yogurt to school lunchrooms

Vermont’s Commonwealth Dairy said it received a USDA contract to provide Greek yogurt to school lunchrooms in Connecticut, Vermont and California. The company will provide 16,800 pounds of Greek yogurt, in 32-ounce containers, for the USDA National School Lunch Program during April, May and June 2016. The USDA initiated a pilot Greek yogurt program in 2013, allowing school administrators the additional option when spending federal money on the national school lunch program.  PD