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U.S. Dairy Export Volume Hits 2-Year High

In May, U.S. dairy export volume was the most in more than two years, paced by record sales of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP), improved shipments of cheese, strong exports of lactose and steady volume of whey products.
The strong performance was greater than expectations in light of global lockdowns and supply disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Southeast Asia remained the number-one market for U.S. dairy, once again posting record-high volume. Sales to China continued to improve. Exports to Mexico are still lagging year-ago levels, but the May volume was an improvement on April.
In May, U.S. suppliers shipped 210,429 tons of milk powders, cheese, whey products, lactose and butterfat, 18% more than the year before. This was the highest figure since April 2018. On a solids basis, exports were also up 18%. The value of all exports was $585.2 million, 8% more than a year ago.
In the first five months of the year, U.S. dairy export product volume is up 10% and export value is up 12%.
Exports of NDM/SMP were 79,163 tons in May, the most ever, and up 24% from a year ago. Sales to Southeast Asia (primarily the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam) nearly doubled, and exports to the region accounted for almost half of all NDM/SMP volume. In the first five months of the year, U.S. powder exports to Southeast Asia were up 55% from last year, an increase of more than 10,600 tons per month. 
Meanwhile, NDM/SMP sales to the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region were the most in almost six years, and shipments to China were up more than six-fold from a year ago.
In contrast, powder exports to Mexico continue to lag, with volume down 28% from last May.
May whey exports were 44,304 tons, on par with previous months. This volume was up 17% from the depressed levels of last year, though it still trailed the strong pace of 2018. All the growth in May came from China, where volume was up 153% from last year. Relative to a year ago, whey volume was lower to Mexico, South Korea and Canada.
Shipments of whey protein isolate (WPI) dipped to a seven-month low, though they were still 20% above last year. Gains were posted in volume to China, the EU and Southeast Asia.
U.S. lactose exports reached a 10-month high of 36,429 tons, up 21%. Suppliers increased sales to Southeast Asia, China and Japan.
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