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U.S. dairy exports in the first half of the year were the most in three years, led by record sales of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) and whey products, and a 24-percent year-over-year gain in cheese exports.
Suppliers shipped 950,291 tons of milk powder, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose in the first six months of 2017, up 13 percent from last year, and the most since 2014. U.S. exports were valued at $2.77 billion, up 23 percent. U.S. suppliers have capitalized on favorable pricing and exchange rates this year, and tapped into strong demand from Mexico and China.
Exports of NDM/SMP were 309,175 tons, up 20 percent from a year ago. Sales to Mexico were up 27 percent (+31,044 tons) and shipments to China were more than double (+10,107 tons). This offset declines in sales to Southeast Asia, Pakistan and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region.
Cheese exports in the first half reached 172,990 tons, up 24 percent. Shipments to South Korea were up 48 percent (+9,328 tons), while sales to Mexico (+16 percent, +7,237 tons), Australia (+68 percent, +5,004 tons) and Southeast Asia (+66 percent, +3,307 tons) ran at a record H1 pace.
Exports of whey products totaled 259,757 tons in the first half, 12 percent greater than last year. Sales of dry whey, modified whey and whey protein isolate (WPI) all posted double-digit gains.
Total whey exports to China were a record-high 122,596 tons, up 43 percent (+36,729 tons) vs. a year ago. Dry whey shipments to China more than doubled (+25,071 tons), while sales of modified whey were up 36 percent (+10,435 tons) and WPI exports were up 38 percent (+946 tons).
In contrast, whey exports to Southeast Asia were down 22 percent (-10,877 tons) in the first half, with drop-offs in shipments of dry whey, whey protein concentrate and modified whey. In addition, whey exports to South Korea fell 23 percent (-1,628 tons).
Lactose exports have been steady for the last five years. In the first half, overseas sales were 173,133 tons, down 1 percent from last year. Sales to Mexico were improved, offsetting declines in shipments to New Zealand and Southeast Asia.
U.S. exports of fluid milk and cream were up 7 percent in the first half of the year. Sales to Taiwan (+27 percent, +2.7 million liters) and Mexico (+20 percent, +2.6 million liters) were higher, while exports to the Caribbean (-63 percent, -5.2 million liters) were lower.
Butterfat exports in the first half were 11,975 tons, off 6 percent from last year and the lowest figure since 2009. More than half the sales went to Canada, which tripled volume to 6,333 tons (+4,346 tons). In contrast, butterfat exports to Mexico were down 80 percent (-6,258 tons).
Shipments of whole milk powder were just 10,715 tons, a six-year low and down 23 percent from last year. Sales to South America dried up - down 83 percent (-6,369 tons).
Export volumes of milk protein concentrate improved on last year (+13 percent) but were still the second-lowest in the last eight years. Sales to China and New Zealand were higher, while shipments to the MENA region were lower.
On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 14.3 percent of U.S. milk production in the first half of 2017. Imports were equivalent to 3.5 percent of production.