China Imports Record Whey Volumes in July
China’s imports of whey soared to a record- high in July but purchases of milk powders were mixed. Whey powder imports surged 64% year-over-year in July to 63,696 metric tons (MT), up 24,771 MT. China’s July imports beat May 2018’s previous record- high monthly volume by 7,513 MT. Chinese demand for whey has continued to build as the country’s swine industry modernizes production facilities and rebuilds its hog herd devastated by African swine fever.
For the January through July period, China imported 36% more dry whey than in the first seven months of 2019. U.S. shipments of whey to China for the same period accounted for nearly 40% of the total, up a sharp 62% to 132,960 MT. However, U.S. January through July whey shipments were still well below 2018’s 182,476 MT, the year the U.S.-China trade conflict began. China’s imports of whole milk powder (WMP) in July declined from year-ago levels for the second month running. Total imports of 37,105 MT fell 11.3%, following last month’s 6.5% drop.
While New Zealand still accounted for the vast majority of purchases, the world’s largest importer of WMP also turned to Australia and the Netherlands for product. At the same time, China’s July skim milk powder (SMP) imports were sharply higher than in recent months, representing the largest monthly volume since January. July SMP imports rose 2.5% from year-ago levels to 34,602 MT. Once again, product from New Zealand dominated Chinese purchases, but Australia and the United States also increased market share to 17% and 10%, respectively.
Competitive pricing helped U.S. exporters make inroads into China’s SMP market in July, with U.S. exports accounting for 10% of the total, a vast improvement from last July 2019’s 0.34% share. A weakening dollar should continue to boost U.S. exports.
China also picked up its cheese purchases in July. At 16,117 MT, China imported more than twice as much cheese as in July 2019. Year to date, 2020 cheese imports were 16.4% greater than in the first seven months of 2019.