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Chile: a U.S. Dairy Export Market in the Making

Chile: a U.S. Dairy Export Market in the Making

By Paul Rogers

U.S. dairy farmers get first-hand look at how USDEC works to build dairy consumption—and subsequently, demand for U.S. cheese and dairy ingredients—in an emerging market.

USDEC is leading a group of U.S. dairy farmers on a fact-finding and relationship-building mission to Chile from Sept. 24-Oct. 1. The group plans to meet with importers, customers, farmers, and dairy and food organizations to discuss plans for mutually beneficial dairy sector growth.

Why Chile?

The last few years have shown the critical importance of diversifying U.S. dairy export markets. Chile is one of a group of promising emerging markets that will be increasingly vital for U.S. dairy exports moving forward.

“We reaffirmed the importance of diversifying U.S. export markets in 2020 when our No. 1 market, Mexico, was hit first by recession and second by the initial wave of COVID-19,” says Krysta Harden, USDEC president and CEO, who is hosting the delegation.

U.S. dairy exports to Mexico plummeted in 2020, falling by 15% (-84,313 MT). But the United States more than offset that loss with a surge in growth to Southeast Asia, where U.S. dairy shipments jumped 26% (+118,781 MT). That historic increase in Southeast Asia was only possible because of years of work by U.S. dairy suppliers and USDEC with Southeast Asian end-users to raise the U.S. dairy profile in key Southeast Asian markets, build relationships, conduct research into regional product preferences and needs, and invest in systems and products to meet those needs.”

“Chile is another one of the markets that did better during the pandemic than anyone expected. It specifically helped fill a void for U.S. dairy suppliers in cheese,” says Harden.

U.S. exports to Chile grew 56% in volume terms from 2016-2021. Value of those exports grew 35% to $107 million over the same period.

Cheese has been the star. U.S. cheese exports to Chile rose 68% from 2016-2021, and Chile has grown into the fifth largest U.S. cheese export market in the world.

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