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Newly updated Top Charts illustrate data-based trend lines for U.S. dairy exports

By Alan Levitt
We always see a lag between the end of a time period and the collection and compilation of dairy trade data for that period. On February 5, federal agencies released December 2019 data.
This enabled the U.S. Dairy Export Council to put December and the entire 12 months of 2019 into perspective in this article.
We have since updated what we call "Top Charts." It is one of our most viewed pages on because it showcases data through a visual lens. This enables comparisons and other context that can lead to actionable insights. 
Below are four of our top charts with a brief explanation of what they show. See all of our updated Top Charts here. 
Value rises again; volume hits a speed bump
U.S. dairy export value reached its highest level in five years. Since 2016, the year prior to the launch of USDEC’s Next 5% plan to grow the volume and value of U.S. dairy exports, U.S. export value is up by $1.195 billion and aggregate volume is up by 154,000 tons.
In 2019, U.S. dairy exports were valued at $6.025 billion, up 8% from the prior year.
In 2019, we saw volume gains hit a speed bump due primarily to reduced Chinese purchasing, as retaliatory tariffs eroded U.S. competitiveness in China and African Swine Fever decimated China’s pig herd, reducing whey demand. The impact of those two factors on U.S. dairy exports can be seen in each of the following charts.
Widespread value gains
U.S. suppliers posted double-digit gains to four of their top six export markets in 2019. South America moved into the top 5 last year, passing Japan and South Korea. A doubling of sales to Colombia helped fuel the rise in exports to South America, but U.S. suppliers increased shipments to other major buyers in the region as well, including Chile (+14%), Peru (+28%) and Brazil (+13%).
Encouraging mid-term trends
U.S. commitment to serving export markets is paying off with positive extended growth trends in our primary markets. The value of U.S. dairy shipments to Mexico and Southeast Asia—our two largest U.S. dairy customers—increased in each of the past three years. Those two together accounted for nearly $2.5 billion—or 41%—of sales in 2019. 
Mexico, Southeast Asia, Canada, China and South America account for almost two-thirds of U.S. dairy exports, by value.
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