Cheddar manufacture continued its freefall in February for the sixth consecutive month, according to DEFRA figures.
The 109 million litres of milk used to make Cheddar was 17% lower than in February 2002, although slightly less than the 24% year-on-year drop in January. The downward plunge in Cheddar make has now been continuous since last September and, over the six-month period up to February, the total decline has reached 22%.
This means 176 million litres less milk have been used, equivalent to Cheddar output of some 18,000 tonnes.
This drop in domestic output has not been compensated for by increased imports so there has been a big rundown in UK Cheddar stocks in the half-year to the end of February.
n supplies galore
After a few weeks of falling prices, the Tuna Fishermen's Organisation has met to stabilise the market.
This week, prices rose slightly as a result, thus avoiding the freefall some UK traders have been predicting.
Fishing quotas were adjusted downwards, but reports from the Indian and Pacific Ocean operators suggest a sudden scarcity of skipjack in normally abundant areas.
Once again the usual suggestions of overfishing are put forward by conservationists but fishermen refer to changes in sea temperature and that good old standby El Niño.
No one is talking shortages in the months ahead, but hopes of a price collapse now seem most unlikely.

n organic balance
The market for organic milk and dairy products ­ currently suffering from massive oversupply ­ could be back in balance within two to three years or even less, according to Sally Bagenal, chief executive of the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative.
This would result from the converging trends of increasing consumption, estimated at 28% a year, and a decline in the number of producers, in common with the rest of the dairy sector.
This she puts down to an ageing profile among producers and a reluctance to face up to a two-year conversion process. "We have a fantastic product but essentially it was production led. We were led to believe retailers who were forecasting an organic market of 10-15%. In the event, it is something like 4% share. We hadn't done our own market research to find out what was really happening," she added.

n pineapple delay
Problems in South Africa have caused shipment delays of pineapple, primarily in the foodservice sector.
A three-month seasonal shutdown which normally ends in late February was extended until the end of March.
Elsewhere, Thailand withdrew offers, but neither of these disruptions should cause shortages, say importers.
Meanwhile, China is becoming more important as a canned fruit supplier, but UK traders said greater quality control is needed.