WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States’ growth as a committed, consistent global dairy supplier delivering a portfolio of products suiting the needs of overseas buyers has driven U.S. dairy exports to three straight record years. The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) has been there every step of the way, said USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden at USDEC’s Spring Board of Directors meeting, which ended on Wednesday. In 2022 alone, USDEC staff traveled a combined 2.6 million air miles—the equivalent of five round-trip visits to the moon—for a broad array of activities aimed at building demand for U.S. exports and facilitating trade flows.
“The message to our dairy customers around the world is that we will consistently meet their needs now and as their demand grows in the future,” said Harden.
USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden poses with Rep. Dusty Johnson, South Dakota, after a session addressing Congress’ outlook on agricultural issues.
Event sessions included:
- U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson’s assessment of the political landscape for agricultural issues and the need for improved market access for exports.
- Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, on the FDA’s role in facilitating agricultural trade.
- Ambassador Doug McKalip, chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), and Alexis Taylor, undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs at USDA, about the 2023 agricultural trade landscape.
- A discussion about strengthening global connections with Michelangelo Margherita, head of trade section of the European Commission, Deputy Lloyd Day, deputy director general of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mexico to the United States of America.
- A speech and discussion on the effects of deglobalization on trade and the economy with Tom Halverson, CEO of CoBank, one of the largest private providers of credit to the U.S. rural economy.
“I believe it’s our responsibility to help nourish others when we have so much,” said Harden. “People can get calories. This is about the nourishment that comes from dairy and dairy products.”
In 2022, the United States set new records for dairy export volume (2.4 million metric tons, milk solids equivalent), value ($9.6 billion) and percentage of U.S. milk production exported (18%). It was another step in a steady international expansion of U.S. dairy, facilitated by the U.S. Dairy Export Council, a nonprofit membership organization founded by Dairy Management Inc. and partly funded by the dairy checkoff program.
The various jobs and responsibilities of those attending the meeting in person illustrated how USDEC unites farmers, dairy processors, co-ops, ingredient suppliers, export traders and others to increase U.S. dairy exports.
The collaborative effort has worked. Exports have climbed.
In a Q&A session with USDEC members, Harden was asked if 2023 will yield another record for percentage of U.S. milk production exported. Citing challenging headwinds, including the "wild card" of China, she remained cautiously upbeat, saying, “We might not grow as much as we have been growing, but we're hoping for a little bit more."
While U.S. dairy export volume grew 5% in milk solids equivalent terms in 2022, overall global dairy trade fell 3%. Chinese demand dropped considerably from the previous year, negating a 2% increase in dairy trade in the rest of the world.
Panelists on a Tuesday session forecast that the 2023 global dairy market outlook will be challenging for U.S. dairy exporters, with a weaker price environment, improved dairy supply out of the EU, uncertain Chinese demand and significant questions about the global economy.
Excluding COVID anomalies, this year will be the most challenging from an economic growth perspective since the 2008-09 global financial crisis, said William Loux, USDEC vice president, Global Economic Affairs.
But even with plenty of question marks and a few significant headwinds, USDEC economists speaking at the event expect that solid demand for U.S. dairy ingredients in key growth markets, like nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder in Mexico and high-value whey in Japan, will help lift U.S. export volume by 1.5% this year.
Looking ahead, the market dynamics that have helped carry U.S. dairy exports to this point remain favorable. A rising global population, growing middle class and the need for sustainable, affordable nutrition are expected to drive world dairy consumption, benefitting U.S. exports.
Harden captured the cautious optimism of the three-day meeting when she told attendees, “The long-term outlook for U.S. dairy exports is extremely bright. We are poised for continued growth.”
The U.S. Dairy Export Council is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents the global trade interests of U.S. dairy producers, proprietary processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. Its mission is to enhance U.S. global competitiveness and assist the U.S. industry to increase its global dairy ingredient sales and exports of U.S. dairy products. USDEC accomplishes this through programs in market development that build global demand for U.S. dairy products, resolve market access barriers and advance industry trade policy goals. USDEC is supported by staff across the United States and overseas in Mexico, South America, Asia, Middle East and Europe. The U.S. Dairy Export Council prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, disability, national origin, race, color, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, marital status, military status, and arrest or conviction record. www.usdec.org.