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U.S. Dairy Export Value Up 8% in 2019

February 6, 2020

Jim Dickrell

The value of U.S. dairy exports reached nearly $6 billion in 2019, an 8 percent jump over 2018 and a 25 percent increase over the last three years.

“Despite significant disruptions in trade throughout 2019, U.S. dairy exports surged to $5.93 billion last year—a level unseen since the high-water mark of 2014, proving that American dairy continues to be the bright spot among an otherwise sluggish agricultural export market,” says Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association.

That increase in sales came as a result of higher dairy commodity prices across the global. Total volume, at just over 2 million metric tons, was down 7% from 2018. On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equal to 14.5% of milk production in 2019. That is down from 15.7% in 2018, say trade analysts with the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).

“Much of the decline [in volume] is attributed to lost sales of whey and lactose to China due to retaliatory tariffs and African Swine Fever, plus slower shipments of non-fat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) in the first eight months of the year as the U.S. struggled to compete against aggressive European Union clearance of intervention stocks,” say the analysts.

NDM/SMP sales in 2019 were down 2 percent. But those sales were up markedly in the last third of the year once those EU intervention stocks cleared the market. Mexico remained the number one market for U.S. NDM/SMP sales last year.

Cheese export volumes were up 3% in 2019 and the most in 5 years. Again, Mexico was the top market for U.S. cheese exports, thought volumes were down 1 percent.

Whey exports took a big hit, down 18%, with volumes sold to China down by half. “U.S. whey sales to China were the lowest in 10 years,” reports USDEC.


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