By Alan Levitt, U.S. Dairy Export Council
U.S. exports of cheese and whey products were at or near multi-year lows in August, pulling overall volumes down for the fourth straight month. Suppliers shipped 139,281 tons of milk powders, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose in August, down 13 percent from a year ago and down 6 percent from July. Total overseas sales were valued at $390 million, down 33 percent from last year and down 6 percent from July. Export value was the lowest since February 2011 (on a daily-average basis).
Cheese exports fell for the fifth straight month, dropping to 22,658 tons. This figure is down 28 percent from last year, and marks the lowest total in 31 months. Sales to every major customer were below a year ago, with a notable decline (-59 percent) in exports to Japan. Year-to-date exports to Japan were down 39 percent from last year. Shipments to South Korea also have slowed. In the May-August period, U.S. exports to South Korea were down 37 percent.
With very weak global whey markets, U.S. whey exports continued trending lower as well. Total whey export volume was just 32,843 tons, down 18 percent from last August and the second-lowest figure in the last five years (daily-average basis). Dry whey exports were off 22 percent; whey protein concentrate (WPC) exports were down 16 percent and whey protein isolate (WPI) exports were down 11 percent from year-ago levels. Overall whey sales to China were down 39 percent from last year, with dry whey exports of just 2,087 tons, the lowest since May 2008. Meanwhile, shipments of WPI to China slowed to just 277 tons/month tons in the June-August period after averaging 2,211 tons per month in the first five months of the year.
Exports of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) held up better in August. Suppliers moved 42,880 tons, slightly more than July, but still down 6 percent from a year ago. Sales to Mexico ( 12 percent) and Southeast Asia ( 8 percent) were above year-ago levels, but volumes to China and Middle East/North Africa were lower. In the first eight months of the year, U.S. suppliers sold a record 18,736 tons to Pakistan ( 526 percent), making it their 6th largest customer.
Among other products, exports of butterfat (-35 percent year-over-year) and whole milk powder (-20 percent) continue to lag. In August, more than two-thirds of butterfat exports went to Saudi Arabia.
Exports of lactose ( 2 percent) and milk protein concentrate ( 1 percent) in August were about the same as a year ago.
Fluid milk sales in August were up 8 percent from last year, led by record sales to Taiwan. Taiwan has been the number-three single overseas customer for U.S. milk this year, with year-to-date purchases up 87 percent.
To use interactive charts with current and historical trade data, see usdec.org's page on U.S. export data.
To download a printable pdf summary of the August trade data, click here.
Subscribe to the U.S. Dairy Exporter Blog