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Exports and fluid milk running neck and neck

Corey Geiger, Managing Editor

August 12, 2021

U.S. dairy product exports continue to grow, so much so that dairy product sales outside American borders and domestic fluid milk sales are absorbing nearly the same amount of milk.

In May, the U.S. Dairy Export Council reported that dairy exports accounted for 18.8% of total milk solids that month. That is an all-time high for any single month for the U.S. dairy industry.

During that same timeline, fluid milk sales slipped to 19.5% of total milk production. While that 19.5% figure is higher than the export number, one should keep in mind that milk solids, in the form of butterfat, are skimmed off to manufacture low-fat beverage milk.

It’s been estimated that when accounting for all beverage milk, fat levels are at 2.2%, while the national dairy herd is averaging closer to 3.95% butterfat on an annual basis. So, the 19.5% figure for the beverage milk supply — on a milk solids basis — is surely a lower number. What this means is that dairy exports are on track to outpace domestic fluid milk sales.

June posts another gain

Dairy exports kept climbing in June and marked the fourth straight month that the value of U.S. dairy product sales to other countries surpassed $650 million. Overall, U.S. dairy exports were up 13% in both volume and value from January to June 2021 when compared to 2020.

If this pace continues through the remainder of the year, the U.S. could very well realize a new record when it comes to the total share of U.S. milk production. However, there are some headwinds that could slow this success. Those issues include labor, trucks, vessel space, and port capacity.

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