- The price of cheese reached an all-time high on June 8 after a 20-year low in April.
- The high price is the result of a disrupted supply chain, increased retail demand, and the increased consumption of pizza and other fast foods.
- As restaurants open up, it's unlikely that cheese producers will increase production to meet demand, as they're still exposed to the risk of another shutdown.
- Instead, it's likely that the price of cheese will remain volatile for as long as the future of restaurants and other foodservice is uncertain.
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It's a bad time to be a cheese lover. On June 8, the price of a block of cheddar reached a record high of $2.585 a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, up by nearly 160% from April's price of one dollar, a 20-year low.
The coronavirus pandemic has whipped up a perfect storm of supply chain issues that have sent the price of cheese through the roof.
When the pandemic hit, the overall demand for cheese plummeted as schools and restaurants closed. Cheese suppliers that normally provided cheese to college dining halls, school cafeterias, and everything from corner pizzerias to Michelin-star restaurants suddenly had nowhere to sell their cheese.
Suppliers pivoted quickly. They turned to foreign buyers and offloaded their would-be cafeteria cheese onto export markets. And because the price of US-made cheese in April was lower than anywhere else in the world, those buyers snapped it up. Now that US restaurants are reopening and back on the market for cheese, they've found much of their old supply tied up in export contracts.
At the same time, retail demand for cheese has been up between 20-30% since pandemic shutdowns went into effect, compared to the same period last year. Swaths of similar supply chain imbalances between retail and commercial markets have manifested as people were forced to suddenly shift to cooking, working, and using the bathroom at 真人百家家乐网站home.
However, of all its food product brethren, cheese seems especially cursed to be in short supply. One perhaps unforeseen reason is that the kinds of restaurants that are able to stay open and operate successfully under pandemic restrictions use more cheese than the kind that don't. Pizzerias and fast-food chains are some of the best-equipped restaurants to navigate the takeout and delivery-oriented pandemic market. While the pandemic was a major blow to most restaurants, pizza restaurants, in particular, have done exceedingly well in the last three months.
Cheese lovers should brace themselves for higher prices until the supply chain stabilizes. Cheese producers are wary of increasing production in the case of a second shutdown, which would land them in the same pot of trouble they fell into when shutdowns began. And with the restaurant industry in a limbo state of heightened uncertainty, the cheese supply is likely to remain volatile for the foreseeable future.