By the year 2050, 30 percent of Japan’s 127 million residents will be senior citizens, providing the U.S. dairy industry a promising new market to increase U.S.-produced whey protein sales as research indicates this aging population may benefit from whey protein’s positive health implications.

“Export markets represent a great benefit to U.S. dairy producers as it provides a home for increasing milk production,” said Tom Suber, president, U.S. Dairy Export Council® (USDEC), which is funded in part through the dairy checkoff. Dairy producers fund USDEC market development and expansion efforts in Japan, and other foreign markets, to help build U.S. dairy product and ingredient sales.

Research, funded in part through the checkoff, shows that whey protein may have a positive affect on muscle mass, cardiovascular health, bone health, immunity, and the general health of aging adults. “Japanese processors are eager to develop innovative products that target that nation’s aging population. The U.S. dairy industry possesses the infrastructure to supply whey for Japanese manufacturers,” Suber added.

USDEC’s market development programs in Japan also help build awareness of the benefits whey can have in general health and sports nutrition. With this increasing whey demand, the record 766 million pounds of U.S. whey exported in 2006 continues to grow. The United States currently holds the dominant share of whey exports to Japan at 53 percent.

U.S.-produced whey protein fuels the dairy industry’s export success. “The Japanese market has the potential to grow even more. We continue to work with processors to incorporate whey and other U.S. dairy ingredients into products that address the changing health needs of Japan’s population,” Suber said.

For more information about USDEC activities, visit

U.S.Dairy Export Council