Increasing global demand pushed U.S. dairy exports to a record high in the first half of 2013, according to the latest data from the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

These exports were valued at $3.17 billion during this six-month period, up 16 percent from 2013. In the second quarter alone, sales were up 28 percent.

“Americans gained share against their major competitors as well: in the first half, U.S. exports of milk powder, cheese, butterfat and whey were up 9%, while New Zealand shipments were up 4%, Argentina was down 11%, the EU was down 9% (January-May) and Australia was down 10% (January-May),” the USDEC said in its “U.S. Export” report.

Improvements this year have been driven by giants in exports to Southeast Asia, China and Algeria. Click here to read the full report.

Alan Levitt, vice president of communications for USDEC, explained to Capital Press that dairy export valued was up 9 percent over the same period last year, but that the increase was also due to higher prices. Exports by value have been up every month so far in 2013.

Levitt expects exports to be “equally bullish” in the second half of 2013 because, while global production is still sluggish, there’s no indication that demand will suffer.

"Conditions are still favorable for us. All indications are that the market is firm. Prices are stable, and no one's expecting a drop. We should be able to continue doing what we're doing," he said.

See, “U.S. dairy industry posts record exports.”