The crash of global dairy markets in mid-2008 put U.S. exports on course for a decline in 2009, ending a six-year streak of expansion.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Dairy Export Council, dairy export sales totaled $2.32 billion last year, down 39 percent form 2008’s record level. However, most of the downturn reflected lower world prices — overall volume was off just 16 percent. Export volume represented 9.3 percent of U.S. milk production last year, down from 11 percent in 2008 and 9.8 percent in 2007.

After struggling through the first three quarters of the year, U.S. export columns were up 15 percent in the fourth quarter in 2009. For the full year, volumes of milk powder, butterfat and cheese were lower, while shipments of whey proteins, lactose and fluid milk were higher.

“A year ago at this time, USDEC’s economic analysis suggested overall volumes would drop 27 to 41 percent in 2009,” says Tom Suber, USDEC president. “But U.S. exporters retained more of their sales than expected, aided by stronger world markets in the later part of the year.”

Full report.

Source: U.S. Dairy Export Council