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U.S. Dairy Export Growth Streak Hits Seven Months In October

October U.S. dairy exports rose 9% on a milk solids equivalent (MSE) basis, marking the seventh consecutive month of growth for U.S. suppliers. Most product categories posted gains, including nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NFDM/SMP), which recorded its first year-over-year increase since November 2021.

For the first 10 months of the year, U.S. export volume was up by 4% MSE.

U.S. export value rose 24% to $818.7 million in October. Through 10 months, value stood at $8.08 billion, already an annual record, topping the 12-month total of $7.70 billion set in 2021, as a result of increased high-value cheese and butter shipments as well as higher dairy prices in general.

October U.S. gains were widespread across most major products, including NFDM/SMP, whey, cheese and butter.

NFDM/SMP exports grew 11% (+6,975 MT), ending 11 straight months of year-over-year (YOY) shortfalls. Shipments to Mexico jumped 37%—the second straight month of double-digit increases—fueling the gain (see below for more).

U.S. whey exports rose 17%, with gains across all product categories: dry whey, whey protein concentrate (WPC), modified whey and WPC80+. For WPC80+, it was the first year-over-year increase since April 2022. A sharp reduction in shipments to China has blunted U.S. WPC80+ exports all year, but data shows volumes are recovering as supply availability grows and prices ease.

Most notably, Japan has been a driving force behind U.S. WPC80+ volume in 2022. U.S. exports there doubled (+547 MT) in October and through the first 10 months of the year were up 35% (+2,850 MT), mitigating more than half the decline to China.

October U.S. cheese exports rose 4% (+1,589 MT) with widespread geographic gains. Shipments to Japan rose 39% (+1,260 MT), volume to the Middle East/North Africa increased 67% (+1,029 MT) and exports to Mexico grew 12% (+952 MT). While year-over-year U.S. cheese exports have now risen for 16 straight months, gains moving forward may be more challenging (see below for more).

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Here are our two main takeaways from the October U.S. dairy export trade data:

Cheese Exports Still Growing – What’s Next?

As mentioned above, U.S. cheese exports continued to impress in October, climbing 4% year-over-year (+1,589 MT), which marks the 16th straight month of growing cheese exports.

Bigger picture, 4% growth in cheese exports is an incredibly positive story for U.S. exports but does continue the trend of deceleration in the second half of 2022. Through the first six months of the year, U.S. cheese exports grew by 17% YOY but only by 4% since July. What explains the difference and what can we expect going forward?

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