Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg

Why Cheese Options and Butter Futures Are More Popular Than Ever

More traders than ever are trying to get their hands on cheese and butter contracts traded in Chicago.

Open interest, or outstanding contracts, for cash-settled cheese options climbed to a record 41,832 on Wednesday, Chris Grams, a spokesman for the CME Group Inc., said in an email Thursday. The measure for cash-settled butter options and futures also rose to an all-time high at 15,206.

More farmers, big food companies and speculators are joining the market as demand for dairy products grows, said Eric Meyer, president of HighGround Dairy in Chicago. Record open interest for options indicates “participants are more savvy” about hedging risk, he said.

Software innovations are also making hedging more user-friendly, said Brian Rice, founder and principal of risk management firm Rice Dairy.

“The holdouts continue to break down,” Rice said. “The pool keeps growing.”

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