Dairy products including milk, cheese, butter and yogurt displayed on white wood nevodka/iStock/Thinkstock

April dairy exports surge to all-time high

Exports surpass previous record set one month earlier in March.

On a total volume basis, U.S. dairy exports were at an all-time high during April and surpassed the previous record set in March 2018, according to Marc Beck, executive vice president of strategy and insights at U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Beck said shipments of whey protein concentrate and lactose were each at highs during the month while milk powder and whey product exports were the second-highest ever.

Data showed suppliers shipped 213,115 tons of milk powder, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose during the month, up 31% from April 2017. U.S. exports were valued at $518 million, 1.7% greater than in March and 15% larger than levels in April 2017. On a dollar-basis, exports were the highest total value since April 2015, Beck noted.

Ingredient sales again drove the gains, he said, pointing out that shipments of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) to Southeast Asia were up by 70% and sales to Mexico were the fourth-highest ever. Shipments of lactose to China, for the third month in a row, were at record highs, Beck added.

Overall NDM/SMP exports were 76,052 tons, up 37% from the same period last year. Sales to Mexico increased 30% from the previous year.

USDEC said official U.S. Bureau of Census data continues to show an increase in WMP exports to Mexico, however, Mexican import data and trade sources don’t corroborate this. As such, USDEC believes the volume represents SMP sales that were misclassified at the port and has adjusted NDM/SMP and WMP trade data for June 2016 to April 2018 to account for this misclassification.

According to Beck, lactose exports were 37,986 tons in April, the most ever, and 23% greater than levels a year earlier. Shipments to China, at 10,626 tons, again led the gains and were 79% greater than April 2017.

Data showed cheese exports were 32,865 tons in April, up 22% from a year earlier and on a daily-average basis, were on par with March 2018. Beck said April cheese sales to Mexico topped the previous year for the first time in three months, rising 11%. Shipments were also higher to Japan, up 31%, and South Korea, up 31%.

Total whey exports were 53,665 tons in April, up 24% compared to 2017. Beck noted record shipments of whey protein concentrate were led by sales to East Asia, up 123%.

Butterfat exports were 190% higher than last April, totaling 4,945 tons in April. Sales to Mexico shot up 1,172% percent against a low comparable and totaled 2,292 tons, Beck said. Shipments to Canada were up 37%.

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