Mexico Becomes First Billion-Dollar U.S. Dairy Export Market

February 22, 2012 04:02 AM

Mexico is the largest overseas market for U.S. milk powder, cheese and ice cream.

Source: USDEC news release
Mexico became the first billion-dollar U.S. dairy export market in 2011, the culmination of more than 15 years of broad-based market development efforts, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) said Tuesday.
Shipments topped $1.17 billion last year, up 41% from 2010 levels, according to trade data from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Mexico is the largest overseas market for U.S. milk powder, cheese and ice cream, providing a vital outlet for more than 3% of the U.S. milk supply.
“It was apparent early on that Mexico would be our most important export market,” says Les Hardesty, a dairy producer from Greeley, Colo., USDEC chairman and a board member of Dairy Management Inc., which is the primary funder of USDEC. “But we needed to invest in a series of programs that, over time, would enable U.S. suppliers to fully capitalize on the opportunity. USDEC’s integrated activities in marketing, technical assistance and trade policy advocacy have helped to ensure dairymen have markets for growing U.S. production.”
In the mid-1990s, U.S. dairy exports to Mexico were valued at about $150 million per year, and U.S. share of dairy imports was about 20%. Most of those sales were subsidized by the U.S. government. Now U.S. suppliers sell that much every six weeks, and U.S. import share tops 60%. All of today’s transactions are commercial sales.

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