The two foreign customers took in record levels of U.S. milk powders and cheese.
The U.S. dairy industry has big fans in Mexico and South Korea.
Bolstered by record-high shipments to those two nations, U.S. dairy export volumes in March climbed to their best level in nine months.
Mexico imported more American nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) in March than ever before, while South Korea took in a record volume of U.S. cheese.
In addition, U.S. shipments of lactose and whey protein isolate to global markets also topped previous highs, says Alan Levitt of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
“Overall volume and value improved from previous months, though sales lagged year-ago levels,” Levitt notes.
Export volumes rose 19%, and value climbed 14%, over February on a daily-average basis. Even so, compared to March 2014, U.S. dairy exports fell 9% and value dropped 24%.
But that may not be as bad as it sounds.
“Comparisons with March 2014 look less favorable in part because U.S. [dairy] exports last March were the most ever,” says Levitt.
He points out that NDM/SMP shipments in March 2015 grew 40% from February’s daily average and 7% from March 2014. Sales to Mexico, at 26,213 tons, were the most ever for the milk powders and a whopping 68% increase over year-earlier levels.
South Korea’s purchases of U.S. cheese, totaling 34,302 tons, also reached a new high, soaring 48% over March 2014.
Mexico is the No. 1 market for U.S. dairy exports, accounting for almost one-fourth of America’s foreign dairy business.
“Last year, the U.S. sold more than $1.6 billion worth of dairy products to our southern neighbors,” says Levitt. “Mexico is our largest buyer of milk powder, cheese and fluid milk, and one of our top buyers of whey proteins and butterfat as well.”
Dairy-deficit Mexico is one of the world’s largest dairy importers. The U.S. has a 75% share of that market.
“NAFTA gives U.S. suppliers a big tariff advantage, underscoring the value and benefits of good trade agreements,” he adds.