U.S. exports picked up in 2014 where they left off in 2013, according to monthly summaries from the U.S. Dairy Export Council. U.S. suppliers shipped 162,999 tons of milk powder, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose in January, up 19% from last year, and about the same volume as the last four months of 2013.

Total value of all exports was $583.7 million, up 35% from a year ago.

U.S. exports as a percent of production










Total cheese






Dry sweet whey






Total milk solids



Source: U.S. Dairy Export Council


Cheese exports topped 32,000 tons for the first time, up 46% from a year earlier and establishing a new record for the third month in a row. Sales to existing customers remained strong in January, while new sales were captured in Australia, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt. Shipments to Mexico were up 38% vs. prior year, while South Korea (+36%), Canada (+38%), Australia (+142%) and China (+100%) also posted double-digit gains.

U.S. exporters also ramped up shipments of butterfat (+150% vs. last January), whole milk powder (+314%) and milk protein concentrate (+110%). Butterfat exports in the June-January period averaged 9,519 tons per month, more than triple what was shipped in the same period the year before. Almost 59% of the January volume went to the Middle East/North Africa region, led by Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt.

On the other hand, exports of dry whey and whey protein concentrate (WPC) continue to lag prior-year levels. In January, dry whey shipments of 18,508 tons were 3,100 tons less than the May-August 2013 monthly average. January WPC exports of 16,467 tons were the lowest since February 2012, and almost 6,000 tons less than the May-August 2013 monthly average.

Exports of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) – 38,761 tons – were higher than the diminished levels of last January, but well below the levels registered in the last nine months of 2013 (average 49,849 tons/month). In April-December 2013, U.S. NDM/SMP exports averaged just shy of 50,000 tons per month. In addition, NDM/SMP exports in January represented just 43% of U.S. powder production for the month, leading to a greater-than-average build-up of inventory. The slowdown in NDM/SMP exports is attributed to greater competition, particularly from the EU-28, which saw a milk production increase of 4.3% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Lactose exports improved in January with a big jump in sales to Southeast Asia. Total shipments were the highest since August. Exports of WMP have averaged 4,375 tons a month for the last seven months, nearly triple the volume in the same period of the prior year. MPC exports were up 110% in January.