May U.S. Dairy Export Volume Third-Highest Ever

Volume up 17 percent from May 2017. On a total milk solids basis, exports were equivalent to 17.2 percent of U.S. milk production.  

On a total volume basis, U.S. dairy exports were the third-highest ever. May 2018 exports were greater than levels every month before March 2018 when the U.S. began setting new highs. During May, shipments of butterfat and whole milk powder more than doubled while exports of all other major product categories, except cheese and fluid milk, grew double-digit percentages compared to levels in May 2017.


Marketers shipped 199,601 tons of milk powder, cheese, butterfat, whey products, and lactose during the month, up 17 percent from May 2017. U.S. exports were worth $505 million, 1 percent greater than a year ago. In the first five months of 2018, dairy exports totaled $2.391 billion, 6 percent more than the same period in 2017.

Exports of NFDM/SMP increased by 20 percent compared to one year earlier and totaled 70,461 tons. The largest gains came from South Asia (+88 percent), Southeast Asia (+39 percent), and Mexico (+14 percent).

(Official U.S. Bureau of Census data continues to show an increase in WMP exports to Mexico. However, Mexican import data and trade sources don’t corroborate this, and we believe this volume represents SMP sales that were misclassified at the port. Therefore, we’ve adjusted NDM/SMP and WMP trade data for June 2016 to May 2018 to account for this misclassification.)

Lactose exports totaled 35,126 tons in May, 40 percent greater than levels in May 2017. Shipments to China (8,626 tons) and New Zealand (4,368 tons) drove the increase adding 75 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

Cheese exports were 29,913 tons in May, 15 percent lower than the previous year. Sales to Mexico declined by 35 percent against a challenging comparable. Exports also decreased by 24 percent to Japan and were down 54 percent to Australia. These declines were partially offset by gains in South Korea (+13 percent) and the Middle East (+18 percent).


Whey exports increased 19 percent and totaled 53,171 tons in May. Shipments increased to Southeast Asia (+77 percent) and East Asia (+7 percent).

Butterfat exports totaled 3,984 tons, up 105 percent from the year before. Sales to Canada grew by 57 percent and totaled 1,238 tons. Shipments to Mexico added 118 percent and totaled 603MT.

On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 17.2 percent of U.S. milk production in May. Imports were equal to 3.3 percent.