A burgeoning export market has kept milk prices high this year.

It serves as a reminder how important exports have become. As a recent newsletter from the U.S. Dairy Export Council points out, there’s “no going back.”

“The United States has reached a tipping point where dairy exporting is no longer an option but a necessity,” the newsletter said.

The newsletter was distributed to the industry this week. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The U.S. exported 145,586 metric tons of skim milk powder during the first four months of this year — up 79 percent from the same period in 2010. 
  • Cheese exports were up, as well. During the first four months of this year, the U.S. exported 68 percent more cheese than the same period in 2010.
  • Although whey exports remained at the same level during the first four months of this year, whey offers tremendous opportunities, given an aging population in many countries. Whey protein has been found to have the ability to fight breast cancer, lower blood pressure and promote muscle mass and weight loss.  
  • China will continue to be a major importer of milk powder. During the first five months of this year, China’s whole milk powder imports grew by 54 percent – well ahead of last year’s record pace. “The strong Chinese economy continues to drive consumer appetites and the country cannot meet its own dairy needs,” says Marc A.H. Beck, senior vice president at the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
  • One of America’s potential competitors in the export market, Brazil, has had some challenges recently due to poor weather, low farm-gate prices and high input costs. And, rising domestic consumption has reduced the county’s exportable surplus, the newsletter pointed out. The Brazilian currency has also gained in strength against the U.S. dollar and Argentinean peso, which hinders export competitiveness.  Brazil is mentioned in this 2009 article from Dairy Herd Management as a country that could rise up and challenge the U.S. in the future.