May dairy exports third highest on record

U.S. exports equivalent to 17.2% of U.S. milk production in May.

On a total volume basis, U.S. dairy exports were the third highest ever, according to Marc Beck, executive vice president of strategy and insights at the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC). In fact, he said these exports were greater than levels every month before March 2018, when the U.S. began setting new highs.

On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 17.2% of U.S. milk production in May. Imports were equal to 3.3%.

“During May, shipments of butterfat and whole milk powder more than doubled, while exports of all other major product categories, except cheese and fluid milk, grew double-digit percentages compared to levels in May 2017,” Beck noted.

Marketers shipped 199,601 tons of milk powder, cheese, butterfat, whey products and lactose during the month, up 17% from May 2017. U.S. exports were worth $505 million, 1% greater than a year ago. In the first five months of 2018, dairy exports totaled $2.391 billion, 6% more than for the same period in 2017, Beck reported.

Exports of nonfat dry milk (NDM) and skim milk powder (SMP) increased 20% compared to one year earlier and totaled 70,461 tons. The largest gains came from South Asia (up 88%), Southeast Asia (up 39%) and Mexico (up 14%).

According to Beck, official U.S. Bureau of Census data continue to show an increase in whole milk powder exports to Mexico. However, Mexico's import data and trade sources don’t corroborate this. USDEC said it believes this volume represents SMP sales that were misclassified at the port. Therefore, USDEC adjusted the NDM/SMP and whole milk powder trade data for June 2016 to May 2018 to account for this misclassification.

Lactose exports totaled 35,126 tons in May, 40% greater than levels in May 2017. Shipments to China (8,626 tons) and New Zealand (4,368 tons) drove the increase, adding 75% and 65%, respectively.

Beck said cheese exports were 29,913 tons in May, 15% lower than the previous year. Sales to Mexico declined by 35% against a challenging comparable period. Exports also decreased 24% to Japan and were down 54% to Australia. These declines were partially offset by gains in South Korea (up 13%) and the Middle East (up 18%).

Whey exports increased 19% and totaled 53,171 tons in May. Shipments increased to Southeast Asia (up 77%) and East Asia (up 7%).

Butterfat exports totaled 3,984 tons, up 105% from the year before. Sales to Canada grew by 57% and totaled 1,238 tons. Shipments to Mexico added 118% and totaled 603 tons.

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