For the second straight year, the United States shipped more than 13 percent of its annual U.S. milk solids overseas — a continued sign that U.S. dairy suppliers are building a more major role in meeting the needs of burgeoning global dairy demand.
“U.S. dairy exports are now a $5 billion business,” says Tom Suber, president U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). “Export value hit a record $5.21 billion in 2012 and the nation’s dairy suppliers sent 3.295 billion lbs. of total milk solids into export channels last year.” USDEC, primarily funded by the dairy checkoff, leads overseas market development on behalf of the U.S. dairy industry.
With more dairy products moving overseas, U.S. dairy producers have been able to grow in the last decade while minimizing the accumulation of burdensome inventories in the domestic market, notes Paul Rovey, a dairy producer from Arizona and chairman of USDEC.
“Since 2003, U.S. milk production has increased 18 percent and more than half (56 percent) of the incremental milk volume has been sold overseas,” Rovey says. “USDEC’s long-term engagement in overseas markets has helped make that possible.”
The United States posted broad gains across geographies and product lines. Among the 2012 highlights, cheese, whey protein concentrate (WPC) and nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) all set volume records.
U.S. cheese exports cleared 260,000 tons (573 million lbs.), nearly twice the volume shipped just four years earlier in 2008, with Mexico, Japan, South Korea and China fueling gains. NDM/SMP shipments grew 2 percent to 444,727 tons (980 million lbs.), driven by strong demand from across Latin America and the Middle East. WPC toppled the previous volume record, jumping 27 percent to 233,362 tons (514 million lbs.), powered by Southeast Asia, Mexico and South Korea. (More specifics on U.S. export performance are included at the end of this press release.)
Key U.S. markets—Mexico (+6 percent), China/Hong Kong (+16 percent), Canada (+11 percent), Japan (+3 percent), South Korea (+2 percent) and the Middle East/North Africa (+16 percent)—all boosted their U.S. purchases. Only Southeast Asia (-4 percent) declined among major U.S. customers.
U.S. suppliers leveraged USDEC programs in market development, market access and trade policy programs to improve their sales to overseas customers. Last year (and through early February 2013), they announced significant investment in WMP capacity to service the overseas growth, upgrades to NDM/SMP to cater to the high-spec demands of overseas buyers, and new whey processing capacity to meet booming protein demand here and abroad.