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U.S. dairy exports finish strong in 2019

Over the full 12 months of 2019, total U.S. dairy exports hit $6 billion, up 8% compared to the previous year. Value has increased 25% over the last three years.
U.S. dairy exports were positive in December, continuing a rebound over the last third of 2019.
During December, suppliers moved growing volumes of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) to Southeast Asia in particular, while overall shipments of whey products topped year-ago levels for the first time in 16 months. Lactose exports exceeded the depressed levels of 2018. Like NDM/SMP, interest was strong from Southeast Asia on both whey and lactose. Among the four major export categories, only cheese slipped back in December.
Among December’s other highlights:
  • Exports of whey protein isolate (WPI) were an all-time-high 5,412 tons, including record sales to Japan and Southeast Asia.
  • Dairy exports to South America were $49.1 million, a new high, led by record shipments of NDM/SMP to Colombia. In fact, Colombia was the United States’ fourth-largest export market, by value, in December.
  • Exports of NDM/SMP to Egypt were the most since April 2013.
  • Sales of cheese to Mexico were the most in 18 months.
  • Exports of whey products to New Zealand were the most ever.
U.S. suppliers shipped 179,382 tons of milk powders, cheese, whey products, lactose and butterfat during the month, 14% more than the year before. On a solids basis, total dairy exports were up 16%. The value of all exports was $523.3 million, up 22%.
Recapping 2019: U.S. export value up 25% since 2016
In 2019, U.S. export value topped $6 billion for the first time since 2014. Overall value was up 8% in 2019, and over the last three years, exports have increased 25%.
Total volume of milk powders, cheese, whey products, lactose and butterfat in 2019 was 2,035,131 tons, down 7% from 2018. Much of the decline is attributed to lost sales of whey and lactose in China due to retaliatory tariffs and African Swine Fever, plus slower shipments of NDM/SMP in the first eight months of the year as U.S. suppliers struggled to compete with aggressive EU clearance of intervention stocks.
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