The impact of lost dairy product sales to China due to retaliatory tariffs and the continued spread of African swine fever, plus strong competition elsewhere from European and New Zealand suppliers, resulted in lower U.S. export volume in the first half of 2019, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).
Shipments of milk powders, cheese, butterfat, whey products and lactose totaled 1.0 million tons, down 14% from last year’s record pace. USDEC reported that exports of these major products to China alone were down 54%, while sales to other markets were up 5%.
Despite the decline in volume, USDEC reported that the overall value of U.S. dairy exports reached $2.95 billion in the first half of 2019, which is up for the third straight year.
“Suppliers saw notable gains in sales value to Mexico, Southeast Asia, South Korea, Canada and South America, offsetting a large decline in sales to China,” USDEC noted, adding that bright spots for the first half of the year included increased cheese exports, record whey and lactose sales to Southeast Asia and record fluid milk/cream shipments.
On a total milk solids basis, exports were equivalent to 14.1% of U.S. milk solids production in the first half of 2019. According to USDEC, exports over the previous five years averaged 14.7% of production.