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U.S. dairy exports break record in March

Exports on total milk solids basis were equivalent to 17.3% of U.S. milk production.

May 9, 2018

2 Min Read
U.S. dairy exports break record in March
Port of Los Angeles

U.S. dairy exports set a new record high in March 2018 on a total volume basis, surpassing the previous record high set in March 2014, according to Marc Beck, Middle East/North Africa business unit director for the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). Exports of whey protein concentrate and lactose, in particular, each hit all-time highs, he said.

Beck reported that during March, suppliers shipped 204,453 tons of milk powder, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose, up 26% from the same period last year. U.S. exports were valued at $510 million, 8% higher than in March 2017 and the highest total value since April 2015, he added.

Ingredient sales drove much of the gain, with shipments of nonfat dry milk (NDM)/skim milk powder (SMP) to Southeast Asia doubling from the prior-year level. Sales to Mexico were also the second-highest ever, while shipments of lactose to China increased by 57% during the month and were at a record high.

According to Beck, overall NDM/SMP exports were 67,154 tons, 38% above last year. Sales to Mexico increased 43% from the previous year. Beck did point out that official U.S. Bureau of Census data continue to show an increase in whole milk powder exports to Mexico. However, Mexico's import data and trade sources don’t corroborate this. USDEC said it believes the volume represents SMP sales that were misclassified at the port. As such, USDEC adjusted NDM/SMP and whole milk powder trade data for June 2016 to March 2018 to account for this misclassification.

Lactose exports were 37,966 tons in March, which Beck noted was the most ever and 19% greater than last year. Shipments to China, at 9,282 tons, led the gains and were 57% greater than in March 2017.

Beck reported that cheese exports were 33,844 tons in March, the most in 10 months and 9% higher than last year. U.S. suppliers increased sales to China (up 56%) and Japan (up 30%), which continued to offset slower sales to Mexico. Shipments to Mexico decreased 16% in March.

Total whey exports were 53,079 tons in March, a 19% rise from last year.

“Shipments of whey protein concentrate were at an all-time high, while exports of dry whey were at a nearly four-year high,” Beck said.

Butterfat exports totaled 3,714 tons in March, up 180% from March 2017. Sales to Canada were rose 129%, and shipments to the Middle East also firmed, rising 279% against the low comparable figures from last year.

Exports, on a total milk solids basis, were equivalent to 17.3% of U.S. milk production, while imports were equivalent to just 3%, Beck said.

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