June 10, 2019

China Putting Anchor On 2019 Exports

 |  By: Mike Opperman

We’re approaching the one year anniversary of Chinese tariffs, and the negative impact of those tariffs on dairy exports to China continues. In April, U.S. exports of milk powders, cheese, butterfat, whey products and lactose to China were down 64% from a year ago, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). That’s a loss of 27,000 tons of product sales. 

Whey exports have been particularly hard hit. Exports to China in April were down 70%, the lowest monthly volume in nine years. Whey is an important part of nursery pig diets, and the impact of African Swine Fever on the Chinese hog market has played a major role in the decline of whey imports. Depressed exports to China, in addition to a 44% drop in whey exports to Japan, brought total whey exports down 31% from last year. 

While total exports of all dairy products in April were in line with the last 10 months, volume was off 22% from what was a record setting April 2018. 

Although volume was down, export values remain strong. While the total value of U.S. exports in April were off 5% from last year, the value of exports over the first four months of 2019 is up for the third straight year and represents the highest total since 2015.

On a total solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 14.4% of U.S. milk solids production in April. During the first four months of the year, exports were equivalent to 14.1% of production, compared with an average of 14.7% from 2014 through 2018.

Click here to view interactive charts with current and historical exports data.