U.S. Dairy Processors Woo Export Markets

June 2, 2010 07:00 PM
 
Catherine Merlo
Dairy Today Western Editor

Business with overseas markets is resuming after the global financial crisis and dwindling dairy prices resulted in the value of 2009 export sales plummetting by nearly 40%. That drop followed the peak year of 2008, when U.S. dairy exports totaled $3.8 billion and ended a six-year run of expansion.

So far in 2010, U.S. exports are back in full sail. In March, exports of milk powder, whey protein concentrate, cheese, butterfat and lactose all posted significant gains. Total dairy exports for the month reached nearly $291 million, 71% higher than in March 2009.

"Our 2010 export business is already strong, and we may see a year like 2007, which was our best export year ever,” says Clayton Galarneau, general manager of the Michigan Milk Producers Association.  "It's a great opportunity for us. We're always looking to increase profit margins and find the customers who want our products. Everything we can sell outside of the U.S. means that much less price pressure domestically.”
                                       
"The U.S. dairy industry is in the perfect position to be a major supplier to the world,” adds John Jeter, president and CEO of Hilmar Cheese Company (of California and Texas), which exports to 50 countries.  Whether it's China, the Middle East, Mexico or Southeast Asia, the market for U.S. dairy products is massive. "There are so many opportunities, we can just pick them,” Jeter says. "But we have to pick well.”

Products finding markets overseas include butter, nonfat dry milk, whey protein and lactose.

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