U.S. dairy exports in November were the most in more than a year, paced by record shipments of whey products, strong sales of cheese and milk powder, and improved volumes of butterfat.
Suppliers shipped 173,269 tons of milk powder, cheese, butterfat, whey and lactose in November, up 6% from last year and the highest total since October 2016. U.S. exports were valued at $474 million, up 8%.
Total whey exports were a record-high 50,590 tons, up 10% vs. last year. Sales to Southeast Asia ( 22%) and China were the highest of the year, though China’s total was still shy of last year (-7%). Shipments to South Korea ( 34%) and Japan ( 78%) also were strong.
Exports of modified whey were up 18% in November (led by strong sales to China), while dry whey shipments were up 15% (led by China and Southeast Asia) and WPC exports were up 7% (good sales to Southeast Asia, but offset by lower sales to China). WPI was the outlier amongst the whey categories, trailing last year by 23%. WPI suppliers saw record-high sales to Japan, but a drop-off in sales to China, Canada and the European Union.
Cheese exports were 29,284 tons in November, up 17% from a year ago. Shipments to Australia were more than triple last year’s volume, and sales to both the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) and Southeast Asia more than doubled. Meanwhile, exports to Mexico and South Korea were flat, and Japan posted a 10-month low.
(Official USDA 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 November 2017 to account for this misclassification.)
Exports of butterfat were 3,590 tons in November, up 39% and the most in nearly two years. Shipments to the MENA region (mostly Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco) were nearly triple last year’s volume. Sales to Mexico also were higher.
Fluid milk/cream exports were down 38% in November, with a steep fall-off in sales to Canada (-82%). In Q4-16, Canada took more than 20,000 liters, a volume that won’t be approached in 2017. In contrast, shipments to Mexico were up 72%.
On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 16.1% of U.S. milk production in November, the highest percentage since October 2016. Imports were equivalent to 3.5% of production. In the first 11 months of 2017, exports represented 14.5% of milk-solids output.
Alan Levitt is vice president of communications and market analysis at the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
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