Source: U.S. Dairy Export Council
A survey of international dairy ingredient buyers says the United States is a “natural partner” with an abundant milk supply that doesn’t suffer the seasonal ebbs and flows of grass-based exporting countries.
Nevertheless, the U.S. must become a more reliable partner. “It’s hard to make the United States a supplier of strategic ingredients if I can’t count on them to be here when things are good and bad,” says one buyer. “If the domestic U.S. market takes off, then I worry that my export supply will disappear.”
Adds another: “The U.S. is dead last by a lot on research and development. Suppliers in Oceania and Europe work with our teams to tailor products to our needs. If we need something difficult, we don’t go to the United States.”
Ouch. But the survey also notes that U.S. suppliers are getting better. Specifically cited: A willingness to formulate whey products, increased expertise on documentation and regulations, and better forward pricing.
A recent re-analysis of global dairy supply and demand confirms that the U.S. can be well positioned to meet global dairy demands. “Like any business, [importing countries] want supply options,” says Marc Beck, U.S. Dairy Export Council senior vice president of market development. “Purchasing from a single export source not only the gives the seller the leverage in the transaction, it potentially limits product availability.
“Oceania is a highly seasonal producer, for example, and has shown to be particularly vulnerable to the weather extremes that are becoming increasingly common these days,” Beck says.
But for the U.S. to become the dairy source of choice, it will have to work harder at being a consistent source of supply during both high and low price cycles, customize products to meet ingredient specifications and work with customers to reduce price volatility.