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After 12 straight months of year-over-year growth, U.S. dairy export volumes declined July. Suppliers shipped 147,419 tons of milk powder, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose during the month, down 1 percent from last year and the lowest since January. Exports of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) declined for the first time since June 2016, while sales of whey products and lactose were flat. The only major category to post a gain was cheese.
U.S. exports were valued at $422 million. With stronger world prices than a year ago, this figure was up 11 percent from last July. Exports of NDM/SMP were just 42,232 tons, down 13 percent from last year. Sales to Mexico were up just 1 percent (+145 tons) after posting a 27-percent gain (+31,044 tons) in the first half of the year. (Note: these calculations reflect adjustments we've made to the USDA data to reflect shipments misclassified as WMP.) Meanwhile, the slowdown in powder sales to Southeast Asia continued in July: sales were down 27 percent (-5,074 tons), with a large fall-off in shipments to Indonesia. Exports to China also plunged, down 45 percent after doubling in the first half of the year. Shipments to Pakistan (-35 percent) and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region (-48 percent) trailed year-ago levels as well.
Exports of whey products totaled 42,553 tons in July, down fractionally from last year. Sales of dry whey and whey protein concentrate were slightly higher, while shipments of modified whey and whey protein isolate (WPI) were slightly lower. Total whey exports to China were 19,262 tons, down 3 percent (-532 tons) vs. a year ago. This is a sharp contrast to the first half of the year, when U.S. whey exports to China were up 43 percent. The slowdown reflects lighter sales of modified whey (permeate) - down 14 percent in July after posting a 36-percent gain in H1 - as well as a 29 percent drop in shipments of WPC. Exports to Southeast Asia also continued to slump, falling 13 percent in July (-938 tons), while sales to South Korea fell 55 percent (-484 tons).
Cheese exports in July were 27,253 tons, the lowest since January (on a daily-average basis), but still up 14 percent from a year ago. Shipments to Japan (+47 percent, +1,114 tons), South Korea (+29 percent, +1,105 tons) and Australia (+80 percent, +977 tons) all were significantly higher.
Lactose exports were down fractionally in July. Shipments to Southeast Asia plunged 36 percent (-3,069 tons), offsetting stronger sales to China and Japan.
U.S. exports of fluid milk and cream were down 4 percent in July, despite record sales to Taiwan (3.55 million liters, +57 percent, +1.29 million liters). These gains were offset by lower sales to Mexico (-34 percent, -1.34 million liters).
Exports of butterfat, whole milk powder and milk protein concentrate were negligible, each around 2,000 tons in July.
On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 13.4 percent of U.S. milk production in July, the lowest figure since January. Imports were equivalent to 3.6 percent of production.