In 2008, the United States will likely export more than $4 billion of dairy products. That's up nearly 33% over 2007, and triple what we exported just five years ago.
Much of that growth can be attributed to the hard work of U.S. dairy companies and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) in building demand. But unquestionably, the U.S. has also benefited from supply problems in New Zealand and Australia, plagued by too much rain in the former and not enough in the latter. Both countries seem to be turning things around, and South American countries such as Brazil are starting to take market share as well, says Tom Suber, president of USDEC.
Suber, writing in the November issue of EXPORTProfile, notes that just 7% of global dairy production is exported. "So it doesn't take much of a move in one direction or another to shake things up,” he says.
"Translation: Competition is going to get tougher and U.S. suppliers need to redouble their efforts to hold onto export advantages, much less grow the market,” he says.
"Judging by overseas customers' comments, we have a ways to go before we treat our export buyers as a normal part of business as domestic ones. If we expect to beat the competition, we must shift our attitude and welcome this business rather than just tolerate it while the living is easy.”