Chinese baby drinking milk.
May 5, 2016

U.S. Dairy Exports Down 23% in March

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

While everyone worries about the decline in U.S. dairy exports to China and the Russian trade embargo, more concerning is that shipments were also down to Mexico, our largest trading partner, and Southeast Asia in March.

U.S. dairy exports were down 23% in volume and 31% in value in March compared to a year ago, reports the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The numbers are little misleading because March 2015 exports were up slightly as exporters tried to catch up on shipments that were delayed due to labor strikes in West Coast ports earlier in that year, says Alan Levitt, USDEC spokesman.

U.S. dairy exports were the equivalent to 12.1% of U.S. milk production on a total milk solids basis. This is the lowest level in 14 months. Imports were equal to 3.9% of production, meaning the export/import net impact was still a 3:1 advantage for U.S. dairy farmers.

Nevertheless, shipments of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder were down 25%, the first year-over-year decline since August 2015. Sales to Mexico were down 30% and sales to Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines) were down 28%. The value of SMP exports was just 86¢/lb., the lowest price in 11 years.

Cheese exports were also down 26%, not surprising given than U.S. cheese prices about 10% higher than world prices.Cheese exports to Mexico were actually up 7%, but exports to South Korea declined 61% over a year ago (which had a record high volume).

Read the full USDEC report here.