- news, features, articles and disease information for the dairy industry

USDA GAIN: Dairy and Products

29 May 2013

USDA GAIN: Mexico Dairy and Products Semi-annual - May 2013USDA GAIN: Mexico Dairy and Products Semi-annual - May 2013

Dairy production continues growing with anticipated lower feed prices and improved genetics despite challenges that have reduced the number of operators and herd sizes for the past several years. Consumption is increasing as upper-income consumers demand higher-value products and subsidies lower costs for other consumers. The United States exported record values and volumes of dairy ingredients to Mexico in 2012 which exceeded $1.2 billion and are on pace for another strong year in 2013.
USDA Gain Report - Dairy and Products

Dairy, Milk, Fluid


The new Post MY2013 (January to December) fluid milk production forecast is 11.4 million metric tons (MMT) based upon updated official data from Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishery and Food (SAGARPA). Better production practices, improved genetics, and price incentives from the government are helping increase production. The Post fluid milk production estimate for MY2012 is revised upward from the USDA estimate to 11.4 MMT based on official data and the same above factors of better genetics from greater yielding milk cows and improved production practices among vertically integrated large producers. The Post fluid milk production estimate for MY2011 is unchanged.

Milk Producers Looking for Water Use Efficiency

The forecast of increasing global grain production levels during MY2013 along with lower domestic grain prices has allowed producers to focus on other important input costs. The availability of water in confinement establishments and the lack of suitable grazing pasture — mainly in northern Mexico due to the prevailing drought (see image, below) — have become increasingly important issues for the dairy sector to address. Industry leaders are encouraging milk producers to improve efficiencies and use better and newer technologies to pump water from wells so as to lower unit costs.

Image 1. Mexico: North American Drought Monitor through April 30, 2013

Better Herd Genetics and Resizing of Herds

As was the case in MY2012, producers in MY2013 are continuing to decrease herd sizes by sending milk cows to slaughter for meat as it is more profitable than retaining them for milk production. Private sources indicate that the total number of milk producers number around 200,000 and that the industry is continuing to struggle with input costs and water scarcity. Given that small and medium-sized producers are reducing herd sizes or exiting the industry, MY2013 production levels will depend upon continued introduction of better herd genetics in vertically integrated farms.

Milk Cow Numbers

There is no change to the MY2013, MY2012, or MY2011 milk cow forecast or estimates. Continued sales price challenges and input price pressures could, however, force producers to reduce herds further than anticipated in 2013 and will need to be monitored.


The Post MY2013, total fluid milk consumption estimate (domestic and factory use) is revised upward to almost 11.5 MMT as the industry forecasts sustained consumption of added-value products for middle and upper income consumers with sustained support from LICONSA for lower income consumers. The Post MY2012 total fluid milk consumption estimate was revised upward, as well, from the USDA estimate due to official Mexican data. The estimate for MY2011 is unchanged.

Mexico’s Population Demographics Influence Dairy Product Consumption

For MY2012 and MY2013 it is important to note the trade-offs between fluid domestic consumption and factory use. As previously reported, consumers continue switching to other prepared and processed dairy products such as yoghurts and other preparations that offer attractive prices, a full range of flavors, a longer shelf life, and nutritional and functional benefits.

Fluid milk continues to be the strongest pillar of dairy consumption. Despite the appearance of new products (e.g., diverse categories of specialty dairy products for infants, youth, and elder consumers), privates sources anticipate a slight increase in the consumption of low-priced milk targeting low-income populations.

The increased consumption of added value dairy products such as pasteurized milk, sweetened milk, yoghurts, cheeses as well as of ultra high temperature (UHT) milk is an ongoing trend given that the sector is responding to the needs of consumers. Consumers, both younger and elder, are seeking innovative products that offer functional as well as nutritional benefits. The dairy industry is responding to the increased demand for specialized products, such as lactose-free products, high-calcium, and even light or low-fat milk products. Consequently, specialized dairy products continue gaining domestic market share and greater volumes of fluid milk is being directed to processing use.

Industry sources estimate that Mexico has a domestic milk production deficit of around 30 percent as Mexicans are now consuming more milk or dairy products on a per capita basis. Also, the industry is witnessing some consumption shifts (i.e., increased recognition of milk’s nutritional benefits), population growth, and increased purchasing power. These continued trends driving consumption should encourage a production response.

As previously reported, industry sources report that per capita dairy product (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.) consumption is estimated at 140 kilograms (63.5 pounds). Also, the same sources report that Mexico’s per capita consumption in 2012 was 132 liters per year of fluid milk or 363 milliliters per day. Experts point out that this is far below the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of at least 500 milliliters per day and are trying to push demand accordingly.

A Crusade for Better Nutrition for Low-Income Consumers

LICONSA recently announced that in compliance with the Government of Mexico (GOM) “Crusade Against Hunger” strategy (See MX3005), which establishes objectives and measures to help alleviate hunger and poverty, it will focus on increasing demographic coverage of the “Social Supply” of milk through agreements with public and private institutions. More specifically, LICONSA will try to address the needs of the population aged between 6 months and 5 years that live subject to “hunger” conditions.

As previously reported, LICONSA, in response to the GOM efforts to reduce the prevailing high rates of those who are overweight or obese in the infant population, reduced the amount of dairy fat in products that it supplies to the lowest-income sectors of the population. LICONSA eliminated 50 percent of the fat content in its fluid milk and powdered milk products while attempting to maintain the nutritional content equal to its whole milk products.

NOTE: Liconsa, S. A. de C.V. is “a state-owned company devoted to the industrialization and distribution of high-quality milk at a reasonable price, whose main purpose is supporting the nutritional resources of disadvantaged families to contribute to human capital development.” END NOTE.


On October 9, 2011, LICONSA announced a 0.60 pesos (U.S. $0.04) per liter increase to the price paid to producers for a final price of 5.60 pesos (USD $0.42) per liter. This agreement was applied from the beginning of 2012 and it has continued as of the beginning of 2013. On the consumer price side, LICONSA announced that the price of milk distributed to low-income households was increased 0.50 pesos (U.S. $0.03) per liter for a final price of 4.50 (USD $0.33). This price is maintained in 2013. Recently, LICONSA declared that an increase to the 2013 authorized budget must be granted in order to maintain prices for both producers and consumers during 2013.


Mexico remains a milk production deficit nation and will continue to be an attractive market for U.S. dairy and dairy product exporters. Although the domestic industry has been observing steady production growth, imports remain a necessity and the United States will remain the primary foreign supplier of milk to Mexico.

Given recent increases in international milk prices, the Post fluid milk import estimate for MY2013 remains 43,000 MT; unchanged from the USDA official estimate. The Post MY2012 and MY2011 fluid milk import estimates reflect recent data and remain unchanged from the USDA estimates of 39,000 MT and 38,000 MT; respectively.

The Post MY2013 fluid milk export estimate is maintained at 11,000 MT, mainly due to the fact that Mexico remains in a supply deficit. Post’s new MY2012 estimate was revised downward to 13,000 MT based on official data and the reduced availability of milk for export as more was used in the preparation of added-value products. MY2011 exports remain unchanged.


No stocks are held due to the lack of refrigeration or storage space among producers and end-users. As such, end-users utilize just-in-time delivery for those products which enter value-added processes.

Dairy, Cheese


The Post MY2013 total cheese production forecast for MY2013 is maintained at 270,000 MT as production levels reflect the sustained demand for aged cheeses and fresh cheese products. The Post MY2012 production estimate was revised slightly downward from the USDA official estimate as less fluid milk was available for cheese production as it was directed to other added-value products and imports were able to meet demand. The MY2011 production estimate was kept unchanged from the USDA estimate to reflect available data.


The Post MY2013 total cheese consumption forecast is unchanged from the USDA official forecast as consumption of aged cheeses among high-middle and high-income consumers remained stable. Moreover, low and lower-middle income consumers continued demanding fresh cheese products. The MY2012 consumption estimate was revised slightly downward from the USDA estimate reflecting industry data that suggests other dairy products are an increasingly important component of the diet of middle-income consumers. The Post MY2011 consumption estimate is unchanged from the USDA estimate.


The Post MY2013 cheese import forecast is kept unchanged from the USDA forecast. The Post import estimate for MY2012 was revised marginally downward from the USDA estimate reflecting trade data. MY2011 figures remain unchanged.

The Post MY2013, MY2012, and MY2011 cheese export estimates are unchanged from the USDA estimates.

Dairy, Butter


The Post MY2013 butter production forecast is maintained unchanged at 185,000 MT as strong demand from the processing industry for the preparation of other products is expected to compete for the availability of fluid milk for butter production. The Post MY2012 and MY2011 estimate for butter production is unchanged from the USDA estimate.


The new Post MY2013 butter and butterfat consumption forecast is at similar levels from the MY2013 USDA official forecast as use by the bakery and confectionary sectors is expected to be maintained. During MY2013, the baking, confectionary and food processing industries use of butter and butterfat is expected to remain relatively stable and the slight shortfall will be met with imports. The Post estimate for MY2012 was revised marginally downward due to limited availability and reduced imports. The MY2011 estimate is unchanged from the USDA estimate.


The Post MY2013 import of butter and butterfat is maintained at 45,000 MT due to sustained demand from the bakery and confectionary sectors and limited domestic production. The Post MY2012 import estimate was revised downward due to recent available trade data reflecting a decrease in imports. The import estimate for MY2011 is unchanged from the USDA estimate.

As in MY2012, New Zealand will continue to be the principal supplier of butter or butterfat to Mexico for MY2013. The United States is forecast to maintain its market share.

Dairy, Milk, Nonfat Dry


The production forecast of Non-fat Dry Milk (NFDM) for MY2013 is revised significantly upward from the USDA official forecast. SAGARPA is forecasting a significant increase due to anticipated seasonal fluid milk production surpluses and the ability of the fully operational NFDM plant in the state of Jalisco to manage those supplies. Traditionally, NFDM is only manufactured in substantial volumes when there is a seasonal (i.e., rainy season) overproduction of fluid milk. Also, the new Post production estimate for MY2012 was revised significantly upward from the USDA official estimate based on preliminary figures from SAGARPA that reflect the processing of seasonal surpluses into NFDM. MY2011 estimates were revised upwards, as well, based on official information from SAGARPA.


The Post NFDM MY2013 consumption forecast is revised substantially upward to 291,000 MT as increased production volumes will create affordable prices and strong industry demand for use in the processing of other added-value products. LICONSA has created branch locations for the production and distribution of processed milk (UHT whole, nonfat and light) which has increased consumption. The Post consumption estimate for MY2012 was revised significantly upward for the above-mentioned reasons. The Post consumption estimate for MY2011 was revised upward from the USDA estimate as new data from SAGARPA became available.

As previously reported, industry sources report that the principal consumers of NFDM are dairy processors who reconstitute the material and sell it as pasteurized or UHT milk. Also, the confectionary industry continues using small quantities of NFDM in their processes.


The Post MY2013 import forecast for NFDM is 236,000 MT up 4.8 percent up from the official USDA forecast as even with Mexico’s increased production, it is still not sufficient to cover industry demand. MY2012 import figures were revised upward based on official data and MY2011 estimates remain unchanged from the USDA estimate.


LICONSA used to be the largest owner of NFDM stocks. Due to the implementation of the Acquisition of Domestic Milk Program, LICONSA switched to purchasing domestic fluid milk and has reduced its consumption of NFDM and need to maintain stocks.

Dairy, Dry Whole Milk Powder


The Post MY2013 dry WMP production forecast is revised significantly downward compared to USDA official figures. During 2012, as stated earlier, LICONSA announced that it would reduce the amount of dairy fat in its products in compliance with the GOM efforts to reduce the prevailing high rates of children and infants who are overweight or obese. Sources report this change contributed to decreased production. The MY2012 figure was revised downward due to the same factors. The Post estimate for MY2011 total dry WMP production is unchanged.


Dry WMP consumption forecasts for MY2013 and estimates for MY2012 were revised downward compared to the USDA official figures as consumer purchasing power recovery has allowed middle and high-income consumers to buy processed and added-values dairy products instead of products made with WPM. In addition, consumer health interests may have contributed to lower consumption. However, the use of WPM is still a prevailing practice among low-income urban households that lack refrigeration and therefore limit purchases of fresh milk products. Low-income consumers are the traditional market covered by LICONSA and rehydrated milk made from WMP. The Post MY2011 consumption estimate was kept unchanged from the USDA estimate.


The new Post MY2013 import forecast is revised downward from official USDA data to 12,000 MT as LICONSA, once the main importer, continues trying to purchase domestic milk rather than imported WMP. Similarly, for MY2012, the import figures were revised downward as a result of LICONSA’s continued purchase of domestic fluid milk. MY2011 figures remain unchanged.

While being a net importer, Mexico’s exports of WPM during MY2011 were small and stable. This trend is not likely to change in MY2013. Moreover, private sources indicate that the dairy industry is strong and capable of increasing their export capacity for WMP, but that the limited availability of fluid milk is an obstacle. MY2013 and MY2012 export estimates were revised downward based on the lack of fluid milk for production into WMP.

May 2013

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