Mozzarella is the most commonly produced cheese in the U.S. and the most consumed. So why are the cheese block and barrel values that are used to determine the price dairy farmers receive for their milk based on Cheddar, the second most popular variety with consumers?

“It’s one thing to say, ‘Yes, I would love to see Mozzarella included in the survey and be a part of milk pricing formulas.’ It’s another thing entirely to say there’s a way that we can establish what the going price is for Mozzarella independently of Cheddar,” said Ted Jacoby on the March 3 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream, referring to the National Dairy Product Sales Report that surveys what manufacturers have been selling blocks and barrels for over the previous week.

“In the Mozzarella industry, I would say that every single plant that produces Mozzarella is known by the differences in the quality of their Mozzarella in one way or another. And so, I think an even exchange for Mozzarella is a really difficult thing to establish,” continued the experienced cheese buyer, CEO of T.C. Jacoby & Company.

Then there are the differences between Mozzarella and Cheddar to consider. Kurt Epprecht of Great Lakes Cheese noted, “Let’s remember that most of the Mozzarella is a part-skim product, so you’re automatically skimming fat. The components are different than a whole milk cheese, so that throws off that correlation between Cheddar and Mozzarella.”

In addition to the properties of the product, Mozzarella’s primary markets would make it difficult to price consistently. Epprecht described that a lot of Mozzarella is sold frozen (such as on pizzas) or frozen and stored. “[Mozzarella] is a more storable cheese. There’s a lot of frozen Mozzarella sold in this country, and not a lot of frozen Cheddar. So, it then distorts the market because of inventory holds that can come back on the market.

“As much as it makes sense to add Mozzarella on there, I think the devil’s in the details on that one,” concluded the cheesemaker.

An ongoing series of events
The next broadcast of DairyLivestream will be on Wednesday, March 24 at 11 a.m. CST. Each episode is designed for panelists to answer over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future events.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2021
March 4, 2021
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