U.S. dairy exports remained strong in April, coming in slightly below the record volume and value levels established in March, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

U.S. suppliers shipped 184,501 tons of milk powders, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose in April, up 8% from last year. Total value of all exports was $688.5 million, up 26%.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. sales in April went to the top four customers: Southeast Asia (+17% vs. a year ago), Mexico (+12%), Middle East/North Africa (+52%) and China (+32%).

Exports of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) topped 53,000 tons for just the third time ever, with nearly two-thirds of April sales going to Southeast Asia and Mexico. A year ago, however, exports exceeded 55,000 tons, so compared with April 2013, U.S. NDM/SMP shipments were down 4%.

Cheese exports in April were down slightly from March’s record level, but they were still the second-highest figure ever, at 33,759 tons. This total was 32% higher than last year. In April, sales to South Korea (6,847 tons) and Japan (6,536 tons) exceeded sales to Mexico (5,769 tons), typically our largest customer.

Butterfat exports in April were 8,720 tons, the lowest since last June, but still more than double what they were a year ago. The majority of butterfat exports during the month went to the Middle East/North Africa region, with Morocco the leading customer.

Total whey exports were 45,326 tons, up 9% from a year ago, and the third-highest figure ever (on a daily-average basis). Sweet whey was up 14% vs. last April, whey protein concentrate was up 3% and whey protein isolate was up 31%. China remained the major customer for U.S. whey products, with April purchases up 12% from a year earlier.

Lactose exports fell in April after reaching record levels in March. Shipments were 25,961, down 12% from last year.

U.S. exporters also continue to expand shipments of whole milk powder (+93% in April) and milk protein concentrate (+122%). Major customers for WMP were Vietnam and China. Top buyers for MPC were New Zealand and Morocco.