Despite significant disruption during 2019, U.S. dairy export numbers for the year were at their highest level in recent years. Total U.S. dairy exports were nearly $6 billion, up 8% from the prior year. According to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), this number was boosted by positive exports in December, which continued a rebound in the last third of 2019.
USDEC also relayed that U.S. dairy export value has increased 25% over the last three years.
On a value basis, USDEC reported that exports to South America (up 34%), Southeast Asia (up 22%), Canada (up 4%) and the Caribbean (up 8%) reached record highs in 2019, while sales to Mexico (up 11%), South Korea (up 14%) and the Middle East/North Africa region (up 8%) were the most since 2014.
Dr. Michael Dykes, president and chief executive officer of the International Dairy Foods Assn. (IDFA), said the latest numbers prove that American dairy continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish agricultural export market.
“This growth is a testament to America’s dairy industry, which continues to innovate, build new customer bases around the world and deliver a high-quality product known for consistency, safety and deliciousness,” he said. “Two decades ago, U.S. dairy was almost completely a domestic market, but the past 20 years have been transformational. During that time, U.S. dairy exports increased [five-fold], and the United States became the world’s third-largest dairy product exporter. Now, more than two-thirds of U.S. milk production growth goes to exports.”
The industry’s task now is to expand markets for the future, he noted, adding, “In five years, we need to be exporting 20-25% of our overall production to consumers everywhere — consumers who, by the way, love American dairy products.”
Dykes said achieving export growth in dairy requires rules-based, market-oriented trade deals but added that the U.S. needs to act with urgency on trade as competitors like the European Union “are snapping up trade agreements around the world.”
Dykes said IDFA will continue to advocate on behalf of the dairy industry to the White House, Congress and U.S. trading partners to end retaliatory tariffs, restore the industry’s reputation for reliability and level the playing field for U.S. dairy companies and producers.
“With more than 95% of potential customers living outside the United States, expanding access to international markets is essential for the future America’s dairy industry. We cannot achieve this growth alone; we need the Administration’s support and the support of our elected officials to continue growth in U.S. dairy exports,” he said.