I’m sick and tired of seeing headlines in the dairy news media and elsewhere all proclaiming that U.S. dairy
exports have gone to heck in a handbasket, or something to that effect. Yes, some of the sizzle created this past year is gone; however, let’s look at the rest of the story. Some perspective, if you will.
The poster child for perspective: Cheese shipments to customers around the world. During the first two months of this year, we shipped 118 million pounds of cheese out of the country. That was 16% (22 million pounds) less than 2014, but 23% (22 million pounds) more than 2013. By the way, 2013 was the record holder at the time. Not too shabby. Cheese exports during January and February were equivalent to about 6.3% of the cheese produced in the U.S. Again, not too shabby.
In all honesty, we are in for some bumps in the road this year. The Russian ban on imports from the European Union (EU), for example, has the cheese makers in Europe eyeing any and all other markets. This
includes the Middle East, Mexico and other markets the U.S. has been supplying. EU exporters are also moving more cheese into the U.S.; ditto for New Zealand. As I write this in late April, our cheese prices are sharply higher than the $1.40 per pound in European markets. In fact, cheese is being
delivered to the U.S. at around a $1.40; in some cases, it is even cheaper.
Back to the better news: U.S. cheese marketers, the globetrotters, are telling me, “the sky is not falling.” It’s a little cloudy, but U.S. marketers have done a great job and they keep getting better at it. We have growing numbers of customers around the world that prefer dairy products sourced from the U.S. In fact, they are paying a modest premium to keep deliveries from this country arriving.
Here is some additional perspective on other dairy exports. I think this will help you understand the role of the U.S. in international markets. The U.S. was the world’s leading exporter of cheese in 2014 and for the past several years. The U.S. was also the top exporter of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder, whey products and lactose. We were also No. 2 in butter and butter oil and No. 7 in whole milk powder.
Dairy farmers can take credit for a large slice of this success. You’ve stepped up to the plate and met demanding milk quality standards that give the U.S. access to some key markets. Just as importantly, you are helping to the fund the U.S. Dairy Export Council through the check-off.
And hats off to numerous U.S. manufacturers and marketers who make the products the market wants and send teams of marketing and sales personal around the globe. Yes, there will be some bumps in the road, but dairy exports are and will remain an important part of your future success.