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NORTHEAST - DEC. 28: Butter producers report increased offerings of cream over the holiday weekend, creating an impetus for increased churning at butter making facilities. Minimal orders are placed as most buyers assess inventory levels this postholiday week. Cheese moving into regional retail outlets is slow to fair, while foodservice orders are somewhat steady at this point. Some producers and handlers anticipate prices will remain steady to lower going into Q1. Meanwhile, there is market uncertainty as to how much prices will adjust. The domestic bulk butter price, f.o.b. East, is reported 5 to 8 cents over the market of the CME Group, with various time frames and averages used.

CENTRAL - DEC. 28: The Central butter market is volatile. Some market participants equate that with limited bulk butter availability as some manufacturers indicated they are focusing on print production. In the Central region, bulk butter production is ongoing. Print butter production is variable, with some plant operators only focusing on bulk, while other plant operators are segmenting cream into bulk and print lines. One or two plants will be active only intermittently during the week. Some plant managers report receiving offers of spot cream loads priced at or below flat market prices. Although tempting from the price side of the equation, some managers indicate they are concerned about building inventories ahead of the end of the year. This time of year is typically a low point for butter sales for many operations, which means that butter churned now may stay in storage for months on a first in/first out inventory management program. However, if bulk butter is in short supply, demand could remain active.

WEST - DEC. 28: Western butter production continues to shift from print to bulk as the holidays pass and manufacturers set their plans into motion for 2017. Cream is readily available for most processing needs. Some butter makers report actively churning in order to stay ahead of the current excess supply of cream. December domestic butter demand was strong and near or slightly above what was expected. The pull from consumers may have helped draw down stocks to levels the market have not seen for some time. Butter marketers report strong buyer interest continuing, but higher butter prices in some markets are prompting customers to push back against the price rallies. Bulk butter pricing in the West this week is even to 5 cents above. The US average advertised price of 1 pound butter is $2.60, down $.17 from last week. The US average price was $3.03 one year ago. In the Southwest, the weighted average advertised price of 1-pound butter is $2.74 with a price range of $1.88-$3.49. In the Northwest, the average advertised price of 1 pound butter is $2.75.

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