Cheese Makers Struggle With Pandemic

Oct. 28, 2020
Cheese processors are trying to cope with a market so roiled by the pandemic that planning has become nearly impossible.

Cheese processors are trying to cope with a market so roiled by the pandemic that planning has become nearly impossible.

Demand has whipsawed up and down, affected by the status of restaurants, consumer needs and government subsidies. Even though prices are now high, cheese producers told the Wall Street Journal that fluctuating demand leave them with fears of being stuck with excessive inventory.

The head of BelGioioso Cheese said that he had switched from mozzarella to Parmesan because the latter takes more than a year to age. “I wake up at 3 a.m. thinking: ‘How am I going to sell all this Parmesan,’” he said.

Foodservice demand has been unreliable but hasn’t disappeared, as many pizzerias and other restaurants have adjusted to takeout. Still, demand is so unstable that many restaurants are ordering only a month in advance, instead of a year.

Government subsidies have helped prop up prices, which led to record wholesale prices for cheddar cheese in July. There have been major government cheese purchases in August and again this month, but producers fear what will happen when those stop.

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