July 8, 2019

Value Of Dairy Exports Highest In Four Years

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Even with China anchoring dairy export totals, the total value of U.S. dairy exports was up 6% in May and at $539.1 million reached the highest level in four years, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Higher values were fueled by an increase in cheese exports and improved world prices. 

Through the end of May, overall volume of U.S. dairy exports is on track to be the third highest on record. This is despite the heavy anchor China is placing on product sales. Shipments of milk powders, cheese, butterfat, whey products and lactose to China were down 67%, while exports to the rest of the world were down just 1%, USDEC reports. In total, U.S. export volume was off 13% from what was a robust May 2018. 

Cheese exports remain strong, with May exports 11% higher than May 2018. So far in 2019 cheese export volume is the highest in five years. According to USDEC, sales to Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea were all up by more than 1,000 tons from a year ago. However, exports to Mexico, the largest market for U.S. cheese, were down 7% from last year. 

The biggest impact on the Chinese pullback in U.S. dairy product purchases is in the whey market. Total U.S. whey exports were down 29% from last year, and shipments to China were down 67%. That's the lowest monthly volume in nine years. Some whey exports were diverted to Southeast Asia where total whey volumes reached a record high 11,525 tons in May, up 17% over last year. 

Total U.S. exports were equivalent to 14.7% of U.S. milk solids production in May. Through the first five months of the year, exports were equivalent to 14.2% of production, compared with an average of 14.7% from 2014 through 2018.