The U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog: Market Analysis, Research & News
  • USDEC membership meeting forecasts more growth for U.S. dairy exports

    By USDEC Staff October 17, 2022

    Milk supply in New Zealand and the EU is constrained but U.S. dairy farmers have the cows and capacity to meet the world's growing demand for cheese and dairy ingredients. 

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    USDEC Chairman Larry Hancock, left, and Vice Chair Alex Peterson preside over an upbeat Fall Membership Meeting in Chicago. Photo: USDEC. 

    Speaker after speaker at the U.S. Dairy Export Council's Fall Membership Meeting outlined how and why the long-term future for U.S. dairy exports continues to look bright, especially in light of constraints facing major global competitors.

    The meeting was held October 10-11 at the Swissotel in Chicago. USDEC convened processors, trading companies, dairy farmers and others united in their goal to increase global demand for U.S. cheese and dairy ingredients. 

    USDEC Chairman Larry Hancock, a dairy farmer from Muleshoe, Texas, moderated the meeting, announcing that USDEC membership now stands at 114 members: 57 processing companies, 19 trading companies and 37 allied organizations and companies, along with USDEC's founder and primary funder, Dairy Management Inc.

    In opening remarks, USDEC Vice Chair Alex Peterson praised members' "Herculean efforts" to increase U.S. dairy exports ($7.8 billion in 2021) despite challenges that include ongoing supply chain issues, inflation, protectionist governments, unfavorable exchange rates and slower-than-expected economic growth.  

    "There have been a lot of headwinds in the export market, yet you continue to excel, do better, break records and ship more products," said Peterson, a dairy farmer from Trenton, Missouri. "I know that's not easy. I'm glad USDEC is here to help that process along."

    Two consecutive record-setting years for U.S. dairy exports may seem like tough acts to follow. Still, 2022 exports are ahead of last year's pace, 


    "We know this is our time," said Barb O’Brien, president and CEO, Dairy Management Inc., USDEC's founder and parent organization. Photo: USDEC.

    Barb O’Brien, president and CEO, Dairy Management Inc., -- USDEC's parent organization -- may have captured the overall picture best in her address.

    “By investing in product innovation with multinational customers, strengthening our overall reputation internationally and capitalizing on new opportunities for U.S. dairy and ingredients in new and emerging global markets, we know that U.S. dairy will become the supplier of choice,” she said.

    “As we watch the rest of the world retreat a bit, we know this is our time. It’s about creating a stable, long-term, profitable global business for U.S. dairy.”

    One of the biggest advantages for the United States remains the country’s milk production edge. Despite elevated input costs around the world, the United States is best positioned to grow milk volume sustainably vs. the EU and New Zealand.

    USDEC projects New Zealand milk output to be flat or declining for the next 5-10 years. The EU’s official forecast is for zero milk production growth for the next five years—and that is considered by many to be an overly optimistic scenario.  

    Since the start of the pandemic, U.S. share of global NFDM/SMP trade has grown from 29% to 39%; share of whey trade has risen from 35% to 41%; share of cheese has increased from 18% to 22%; and share of butterfat has grown from 3% to 10%. 

    Further growth, however, will not come without its challenges.

    The whole world is in the midst of what some people have dubbed a “polycrisis” due to its many facets, said Robert Zoellick, former U.S. Trade Representative and World Bank president.

    Zoellick, who joined the meeting virtually, pointed to multiple shocks that are challenging all commerce and will likely do so for at least the near future. From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the lingering impact of COVID-19 to central banks tightening monetary policy to fight inflation, the polycrisis will create economic headwinds that will tax farmers and food producers and strain consumer demand around the world.

    But even Zoellick believes the U.S. dairy industry is well-positioned for export growth as the world works through the challenges.

    “I think agribusinesses will be a favorite sector, especially for producers who can lead with sustainability practices such as land and water conservation, energy efficiency, and a smaller carbon footprint,” he told meeting attendees. “The fact is that U.S. dairy has been in the forefront of these sustainability issues … that should give your industry a real plus.”

    What follows are more photos, videos and social media posts that capture highlights of the meeting.  

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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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