U.S. export volumes in February were the highest in six months (on a daily-average basis), led by strong sales of cheese, whey proteins and butterfat, according to monthly summaries from the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
U.S. suppliers shipped 160,510 tons of milk powders, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose in February, up 19% from last year. Total value of all exports was $585.2 million, up 37% from a year ago. On a daily-average basis, this is the highest figure ever.
Cheese exports in February were 31,264 tons, up 44% from a year ago and the most ever on a daily-average basis. Shipments to Mexico were up 46% vs. prior year, while Japan (+58%) and South Korea (+43%) posted large gains. In addition, exports to Saudi Arabia nearly tripled.
Total whey exports topped 39,000 tons in February, the most in six months. Export volumes were 18% more than January (daily average) and 11% more than a year ago. Exports of dry whey, whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate were all above prior-year and prior-month levels. China remains the major customer for U.S. whey products, with February purchases up 47% from a year earlier.
U.S. exporters also continue to expand shipments of butterfat (+102% vs. last February), whole milk powder (+191%) and milk protein concentrate (+58%). In the last eight months, butterfat exports averaged 9,700 tons per month, with the majority going to the Middle East/North Africa region. Major customers for WMP are Algeria, China and Vietnam. Top buyers for MPC are New Zealand and Morocco.
Meanwhile, exports of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) have slowed considerably from the volumes shipped from April-October last year. During that seven-month stretch, U.S. exports averaged 51,268 tons per month. In February, exports were just 36,168 tons. As a result, NDM/SMP exports in January represented only 45% of U.S. powder production for the month, leading to a hefty build-up of inventory. In the first two months of the year, NDM/SMP shipments to Southeast Asia were up 38% from the prior year, but sales to Mexico were down 22%.
Lactose exports in the first two months of 2014 were about the same as the first two months of 2013.
Total solids trade balance
U.S. dairy product exports were equivalent to 15.5% of U.S. milk solids production in February, bringing the year-to-date average to 15.0%. Meanwhile, imports as a percent of milk solids production were just 2.9% in February.
Through February, the United States exported 44% of the nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder produced in 2014, as well as 7.7% of its cheese, 12.1% of its butterfat, 61% of its dry sweet whey and 67% of the lactose.