US Dairy Exports Continue to Boom

US - Monthly dairy export figures were released last week by USDA-FAS for the month of August. Export growth this year continues to show most categories continuing to be ahead of last year. In 2011 exports experienced a large surge in the beginning of the year, posting large year over year gains, while the balance of the year was even or below a year earlier in most categories.
calendar icon 25 October 2012
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This year, in contrast export growth has been much steadier, according to the Livestock Marketing Information Centre. Categories beginning the year with gains have stayed positive, and vice versa for negative growth categories with the exception of buttermilk. Buttermilk had a large gain in January but has since tempered its growth pattern.

Only two categories this year have resulted in a year to date decline relative to a year ago. Fluid milk and cream, along with butter and oils have had double digit declines so far this year, 18 per cent and 29 per cent respectively. However, as stated earlier, comparisons are being made to very strong first half gains of 2011.

Among positive gains this year, cheese products have been the highest year to date, running 21 per cent ahead of 2011. Other categories have hovered around 10 per cent. If cheese continues on this path, this will be the sixth year of seven that cheese has had annual growth greater than 20 per cent. The recession of 2009 was the only negative year of the seven and since then cheese has followed with rapid rebound posting 60 per cent growth in 2010, 29 per cent in 2011, and appears to be headed for continued double digits again this year. Monthly data reaffirms this trend as August was 30 per cent above a year ago.

Other categories with smaller growth have had many mixed months this year and August continued that trend. Exports have been the source of promise for the dairy industry, but it appears the era of accelerated growth may be over for many products. Continued success in the export market will likely stem from new products and new markets.

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