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U.S. Dairy Exports Crosses $9 Billion

Despite challenges, like inflation and supply chain hiccups, U.S. dairy exports set new volume and value records again in 2022.

“We are pleased that we've been able to hold our own, even through COVID and shipping issues and through inflation recovery from COVID,” Krysta Harden, President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), says. “If we can do it in the toughest of times, then we can continue to grow exports anytime.”

Export volume on a milk solids equivalent (MSE) basis increased 5% to 2.4 million metric tons (MT). Export volume in 2022 was equivalent to 18% of U.S. milk produced last year, also an all-time high.

Following suite, export value finished the year up 25% to $9.6 billion—the first time it has ever crossed the $9 billion mark.

“We’ve had three consecutive years of record U.S. dairy exports while facing some of the strongest dairy export headwinds that we’ve ever seen,” Harden says.

The USDEC leader notes that the U.S. dairy industry didn’t get to this point overnight and that it has taken more than two decades of hard work.

2022 highlights include:

  • The U.S. increased cheese sales in a truly global fashion in 2022, posting sales gains across continents.

  • Mexico became the first $2 billion U.S. dairy export market as sales rose 37% to $2.5 billion.

  • Mexico was the No. 1 U.S. market in volume as well, with exports up 9% to 556,497 MT.

  • U.S. suppliers had their best year for butterfat exports since 2013. Sales rose 43% to 81,721 MT, led by triple-digit gains to Canada and Mexico.

  • U.S. milk protein concentrate (MPC) exports increased 16% to 47,434 MT, led by growth to Mexico (+2,902 MT), Southeast Asia (+2,746 MT) and Egypt (+2,644 MT).

  • U.S. whey sales were down through the first five months of the year before logging seven consecutive months of double-digit year-over-year growth.

  • U.S. exports of high-value whey protein concentrate with 80% protein or more (WPC80+) were flat, but that was due primarily to muted demand from China and a sharp decline from the UK. But the U.S. saw some encouraging market diversification for high-value whey in 2022. Japan took over as the top market with U.S. shipments up 33% (+3,370 MT), while sales to Brazil (+58%, +1,459 MT) and Southeast Asia (+34%, +1,445 MT) also shined.

  • Southeast Asia remained the second-largest U.S. market in volume and value terms.

Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) says that as U.S. milk production continues to increase over the next decade while other dairy-producing competitors see decreasing production, the U.S. government must ensure there are functioning, efficient avenues for U.S. dairy exports to meet growing global demand.

“IDFA urges the Biden Administration and Congress to pursue new free trade agreements in emerging markets for U.S. dairy and to continue to hold trading partners with whom we have agreements to their commitments,” he says.

Harden notes that not every year can be a record-setting year, but the long-term demand for U.S. dairy has risen for the last two decades, with belief that will continue.

“It’s not just because I’m competitive,” she says. “It’s because I know our products are that good. And we have a hungry world and a world that needs nourishing.”

February 8, 2023



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