Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted its first export assistance requests of 2014, after capping its biggest year ever in 2013.

Five bids were accepted from Maryland Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and United Dairymen of Arizona to sell 533,519 lbs. of butter and 707,684 lbs. of cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered January through June 2014. The product will go to three countries on two continents. These sales are the equivalent of 18.572 million lbs. of milk on a milkfat basis.

CWT had its biggest year in 2013, with American-type cheese export sales topping 127 million lbs., and butter exports approaching 90 million lbs. The product is going to 40 countries on six continents.

CWT-assisted cheese sales rose 5.4 million lbs. (4.4%) over 2012’s level, to 127.9 million lbs.. The primary type of cheese sold was cheddar at 76%. The percentage of Gouda export sales reached 5% in 2013, up from just 2% in 2012. Monterey Jack exports through CWT reached 19% last year, up from 13% in 2012.

The majority of cheese sales were in Asia, with Japan the largest buyer. North Africa accounted for 25% of sales, with the lion’s share being sold in Egypt. Sales to countries in the Middle East accounted for 12% of sales.

CWT-assisted butter sales (at 82% fat content) reached 97.2 million lbs. in 2013, up 16.1 million lbs. (22%) from the sales level reached in 2012. The Middle East bought 53% of the 2013 CWT-assisted butter sales, with Saudi Arabia accounting for 40% in the Middle East, followed by Iran, at 21%.

Through October of 2013, shipments of CWT-assisted sales represented 19% of total U.S. cheese exports and 82% of all American-type cheese exports. For butter, the 80.5 million lbs. of shipments sold with CWT export assistance is equal to 57% of all butter exported in the first 10 months of 2013.

Dairy farmer members of 38 cooperatives will invest in CWT in 2014 and 2015.