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US Dairy Exports 'Come of Age'

15 January 2014

US - Dairy exports are going from strength to strength and, according to the US Dairy Export Council, figures are suggesting 2013 could have been a record year.

Shipments of seven commodities are on track to reach record highs including; liquid milk, lactose, cheese and nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP).

Although the final figures will not be released until February, the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) has said dairy export values are approaching $6.7 billion, nearly 16 per cent of US milk volume output.

USDEC said external market conditions are partly to thank for what could be the fourth consecutive record year.

In the first half of the year the US was the only major milk exporter to note production lift. This was while European and Southern hemisphere production dwindled under challenging weather conditions.

USDEC explained that demand stayed strong during this period. 

“Global demand remained strong, sharpened by domestic supply drops in China and Russia. As a result, global dairy supplies were tight throughout the year, and U.S. prices were competitive against other sources,” saidi USDEC.

USDEC described last year as a 'coming of age' year for US dairy, and is confident of growth for 2014.

Growth drivers have been varied, with the number one reason being expansion of products for customers overseas and attention to product specification.

This has included an increase in Skimmed and Whole Milk Powder production and work with the Dairy Research Institute in 2013 to reduce spores from NDM and SMP.

This has created more suitable products for the South East Asia and Chinese market, USDEC explained.

Much of the work has been achieved through collaborative counselling and innovation programmes designed to assess and exploit future growth opportunities.

A voluntary enhanced traceability programme was released in September, securing the commitment of Darigold, Glanbia Foods, Hilmar Cheese, Leprino Foods, Michigan Milk Producers Association, HP Hood and United Dairymen of Arizona.

The Innovation Center for US Dairy took charge of the programme to boost food safety, which now accounts for 25 per cent of US milk.

Going forward, the industry targets 80 per cent coverage by September 2014. 

USDEC highlighted product quality and targeted marketing as vital elements for success in 2013.

Domestic relationships have depended on building confidence in US food standards and dairy quality which has centred on catering for foreign markets.

Willingness to shift production in line with changing Chinese regulations was shown by USDEC’s quick response to ‘Decree 152’ on 1 May 2013.

In addition, non-tariff trade barriers have continued to grow in number, posing a challenge to negotiators. Last year, several shipping containers worth in excess of $18 million worth of product in shipping containers were released from border customs hold.

Trading agreements were also developed, with further work needed in 2014.

Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations made ‘substantial progress’. This promises new opportunities for US dairy with Canada, Japan and Vietnam.

Headway into phytosanitary and cheese labelling was also achieved. USDEC is hopeful of having an enforceable system to reduce non-tariff barriers and clarify the industry position on common cheese names. 

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms


Top image via Shutterstock

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