The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • Chile: a U.S. dairy export market in the making

    By Paul Rogers September 22, 2022

    U.S. dairy farmers get first-hand look at how USDEC works to build dairy consumption—and subsequently, demand for U.S. cheese and dairy ingredients—in an emerging market.

    USDEC is leading a group of U.S. dairy farmers on a fact-finding and relationship-building mission to Chile from Sept. 24-Oct. 1. The group plans to meet with importers, customers, farmers, and dairy and food organizations to discuss plans for mutually beneficial dairy sector growth.

    Why Chile?

    Chile5 (700 × 480px) (2)A view of Santiago, the capital and largest city in Chile. Photo credit: Canva


    The last few years have shown the critical importance of diversifying U.S. dairy export markets. Chile is one of a group of promising emerging markets that will be increasingly vital for U.S. dairy exports moving forward.

    “We reaffirmed the importance of diversifying U.S. export markets in 2020 when our No. 1 market, Mexico, was hit first by recession and second by the initial wave of COVID-19,” says Krysta Harden, USDEC president and CEO, who is hosting the delegation.

    U.S. dairy exports to Mexico plummeted in 2020, falling by 15% (-84,313 MT). But the United States more than offset that loss with a surge in growth to Southeast Asia, where U.S. dairy shipments jumped 26% (+118,781 MT). That historic increase in Southeast Asia was only possible because of years of work by U.S. dairy suppliers and USDEC with Southeast Asian end-users to raise the U.S. dairy profile in key Southeast Asian markets, build relationships, conduct research into regional product preferences and needs, and invest in systems and products to meet those needs.”

    “Chile is another one of the markets that did better during the pandemic than anyone expected. It specifically helped fill a void for U.S. dairy suppliers in cheese,” says Harden.

    U.S. exports to Chile grew 56% in volume terms from 2016-2021. Value of those exports grew 35% to $107 million over the same period.

    Cheese has been the star. U.S. cheese exports to Chile rose 68% from 2016-2021, and Chile has grown into the fifth largest U.S. cheese export market in the world.

    Chile chart6 (2)-1


    Despite such growth, total U.S. exports to Chile are still modest. In contrast to more established markets like Mexico, Chilean importers, distributors, food and beverage manufacturers and consumers remain less familiar with the United States as a quality, reliable, broad-portfolio dairy supplier.

    USDEC activities in Chile, like the USA Cheese Guild’s USA Cheese Specialist™ Certification Program for culinary students, aim to address those knowledge gaps. The USA Cheese Guild is USDEC’s customer-facing entity and identity for all cheese marketing efforts. The USA Cheese Guild operates the program through partnerships in key markets around the world to build awareness and heritage of U.S. cheese, creating a generation of U.S. cheese advocates and building long-term demand.

    Image for Chile blog2INACAP instructors participated in a U.S. cheese training session in Chile this summer.


    One of the farmer delegation’s many stops in Chile will be at INACAP—the nonprofit, higher education institute that is USDEC’s USA Cheese Certification Program partner in the market. The mission will also meet with Chilean agriculture officials, U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service representatives, pizza and food manufacturers, journalists and social media influencers, and Chilean dairy farmers. Follow the U.S. Dairy Export Council Twitter account at U.S. Dairy Exporter for updates from the mission.

    The mission kicks off in Santiago, where the delegation will talk with importers and customers and then head south into Chile’s main milk production states for discussions with farmers and their organizations. U.S. farmers making the trip include Larry Hancock (USDEC chair), Alex Peterson (USDEC vice chair), Marilyn Hershey (DMI chair), Neil Hoff (USDEC founder), Joanna Shipp (DMI board) and Jim Reid (DMI board). 

    “We want to start building some of the relationships like we have in Mexico and other places where our industries work together to grow consumption, work together both to keep their farmers on the farm and keep our products coming in,” says Harden. “Consumption is growing, and we believe there remains significant further room for Chile’s domestic industry and U.S. dairy exports to grow together in the future.”

    Paul Rogers is a correspondent for the U.S. Dairy Export Council who has covered the dairy industry for 25 years. 


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    The U.S. Dairy Export Council fosters collaborative industry partnerships with processors, trading companies and others to enhance global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC is primarily supported by Dairy Management Inc. through the dairy farmer checkoff. How to republish this post. 

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