The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • U.S. Dairy Exports Continue on Trend

    By Alan Levitt April 6, 2016

    Powder exports lead the way, with other products in a lower gear.

    U.S. dairy export performance in February showed few surprises, continuing trends seen since last year. Exports of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) held up; cheese and dry whey remain in a lower gear; lactose keeps moving; fluid milk is steady; and sales of butterfat, whole milk powder (WMP) and milk protein concentrate (MPC) are just a fraction of what they were at their 2014 peak. One bright spot in February was a bump in exports of whey protein concentrate (WPC).


    U.S. exporters shipped 143,069 tons of milk powders, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose in February, up 4 percent from last year’s depressed levels, when West Coast port slowdowns limited shipments, and about even with last year when adjusted for leap day. Overall exports were valued at $375.2 million, down 13 percent from last year (and down 16 percent adjusted for leap day).


    Exporters continued to focus on Mexico for NDM/SMP sales. In February, nearly half of the 41,350 tons of NDM/SMP went south of the border. For comparison, from 2010-14, Mexico accounted for 37 percent of U.S. NDM/SMP exports. Exporters also targeted the Philippines, where volume was 77 percent higher than last year (+70 percent adjusted for leap day).


    NDM/SMP exports were aided by aggressive pricing; the value of U.S. NDM/SMP exports in February was just ($2,047/ton (93¢/lb.), the lowest since August 2009. U.S. suppliers continued to move close to half of their NDM/SMP production overseas, alleviating further inventory build-up.

    Cheese exports in February were 24,389 tons, down 18 percent from last year (-20 percent leap-day adjusted), the 17th straight month cheese volume has lagged the prior year. Shipments to Mexico were about the same as a year ago, but exports to Japan, South Korea and the Middle East/North Africa region (MENA) were down by more than one-third.

    Overall whey exports were 35,625 tons, up 9 percent from last year (+5 percent leap-day adjusted), due mostly to strong exports of WPC to China, which were up 39 percent (34 percent adjusted). Whey sales to Mexico continue to lag (-19 percent year-over-year, -22 percent adjusted). Further, overall exports of whey protein isolate (WPI) are just half of what they were last spring due to a significant drop-off from China. China bought U.S. WPI very heavily in the first five months of 2015 – 2,211 tons per month. Since then they’ve tapered down, taking just 302 tons in February.

    Other than lactose (+13 percent year-over-year; +9 percent adjusted), exports of other products have dwindled. Shipments of butterfat were just 4,025 tons, with nearly three-quarters of sales going to Mexico and only 431 tons going to MENA. Exports of WMP were down 19 percent from last year (-22 percent adjusted), with almost two-thirds going to Colombia. MPC shipments were down 43 percent (-45 percent adjusted), with more than half of sales going to Mexico and nothing going to New Zealand.

    On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 13.4 percent of U.S. milk production in February, the highest figure since October. Imports were equivalent to 3.8 percent of production.

    To use interactive charts with current and historical trade data, see's page on U.S. export data.

    To download a printable pdf summary of the February trade data, click here.

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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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