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U.S. Dairy Exports Rebound in September

USDEC staff

A surge in nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) exports to Mexico and Southeast Asia, plus increased cheese shipments to Mexico and United Arab Emirates (UAE) propelled total U.S. dairy exports above year-ago levels for the first time since October 2018.

U.S. suppliers shipped 170,731 tons of milk powders, cheese, whey products, lactose and butterfat in September, up 2% from last year. The value of all exports was $508.8 million, up 17% and the most since May.  

Exports of NDM/SMP were 65,328 tons in September, a 16-month high. This figure was up 25% from a year ago. With EU intervention stocks mostly moved through the supply chain, buyers increasingly turned to the United States for powder. Exports to Southeast Asia (primarily Indonesia and Vietnam) were up 36% during the month, while sales to Mexico were up 14%. Shipments to Peru and Pakistan also were higher.  

Cheese exports also rebounded in September, despite U.S. benchmark prices that sat well-above world indicators. Volume totaled 27,433 tons, 12% higher than the prior year. Gains were led by a 31% increase in shipments to Mexico. In addition, volume to UAE nearly tripled and sales to South Korea were up 9%.  

Total whey exports were 36,468 tons in September, down 11% from last year. Whey sales to China, particularly dry whey, remain depressed due to retaliatory tariffs and African swine fever. Suppliers sold 8,438 tons of whey products to China, down 23% from last year. Dry whey sales were down 66%, while shipments of whey protein concentrate (WPC) were up 60%.   Whey sales to Canada (-37%) and Mexico (-18%) also were lower in September. In contrast, shipments to Southeast Asia were 2% higher.  

Lactose exports were 28,989 tons, down 7% and the lowest in seven months. Volume to Southeast Asia was particularly light, off 39% from a year ago and a four-year low. Exports to China were down 41%, and Japan (-25%) was lower as well. This was partially offset by a 74% rise in shipments to Mexico.  

Shipments of fluid milk/cream continued to post double-digit increases. September volume was up 10% from last year, led by a 36% jump in shipments to Canada and increased sales to Southeast Asia and Taiwan.  

Among other products, exports of whole milk powder (-49%), butterfat (-42%) and milk protein concentrate (-14%) all lagged prior-year levels.  

Overall, in addition to increased dairy exports to Mexico, Southeast Asia and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, suppliers moved greater volumes to South America - primarily milk powder to Peru and Colombia.  

On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 15.3% of U.S. milk solids production in September. In the first nine months of the year, exports accounted for 14.2% of production.