Dairy Exports Set First Quarter Record
May 5, 2022
U.S. dairy exports totaled 561.6 million pounds in March, a modest 0.5% increase against March 2021. Year to date through March, U.S. dairy exports of 1.432 billion pounds were 0.2% larger than last year, setting a new January to March record. Exports of butter, cheese, and whey rose, while nonfat dry milk (NDM) exports fell.
Both Canada and Mexico, two major export destinations for U.S. dairy, upped their buying in March, with exports up 39.7% and 17.4%, respectively, compared to March 2021. The United States shipped 54.2 million pounds of dairy products to Canada, smashing the previous March record by more than 13 million pounds. Butter exports to Canada were a whopping 7.1 million pounds, the highest ever and over three times larger than March 2021. Year to date through March, butter exports were more than double the same period in 2021.
However, exports to China dropped 12% in March on a year-over-year basis, tipping the scales at nearly 84 million pounds. Year to date, U.S. dairy exports to the world’s most populous nation were down 9.5% vs. 2021 for many reasons, including Covid-19 lockdowns, logistical issues, and full warehouses. U.S. whey exports to China, the largest buyer of U.S. whey, totaled 51.5 million pounds, down nearly 10% relative to last March. NDM exports of just under 9.4 million pounds fell 24% compared to March 2021.
March cheese exports of nearly 92 million pounds set an all-time high, gaining 13% year over year. Mexico and South Korea, key buyers of U.S. cheese, received 54 million pounds combined. Butter exports also jumped in March, weighing in at 13.5 million pounds and leaping 47% vs. March 2021. The United States was a net exporter of butter in March for the third straight month.
With U.S. milk and dairy products more readily available and cheaper than in other parts of the world, U.S. exporters are well positioned if logistical issues can be overcome.