Value of overseas sales tops $500 million for the second straight month.
U.S. exports in October were paced by record shipments of nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder (NDM/SMP) to Southeast Asia, plus strong sales of cheese to Mexico and lactose to New Zealand.
U.S. suppliers shipped 176,896 tons of milk powders, cheese, whey products, lactose and butterfat in October, almost identical to last year. The value of all exports was $527.7 million, up 15% and the most since May.
Exports of NDM/SMP were 70,726 tons in October, the most in 18 months and the third-highest volume ever. This figure was up 17% from a year ago. With EU intervention stocks moved through the supply chain, buyers increasingly turned to the United States for powder. Exports to Southeast Asia were a record-high 25,081 tons, up 23% from last year. Gains were primarily driven by Indonesia (all-time high) and Vietnam. Exporters found new customers in Colombia and New Zealand as well. Sales to Colombia topped 9,500 tons in the last five months, vs. 1,039 tons in the same period a year ago. October sales to New Zealand were 1,748 tons, the most ever.
Meanwhile, powder exports to Mexico exceeded 32,000 tons for the second straight month but lagged the strong level of a year ago.
Cheese exports were 28,417 tons in October, up 6% from last year. For the year, volume is tracking at a five-year high.
However, in October, results were mixed across markets. Shipments to Mexico were 9,025 tons, up 29% and the most in 16 months. Sales to Southeast Asia were up 43%, led by a jump in sales to Indonesia. However, volume to most other top customers were lower, likely a function of higher U.S. benchmark prices this fall relative to world prices. Japan was down 28% and the lowest in more than three years; Middle East/North Africa was down 32% and a 20-month low; South Korea was down 21%; and Australia was off 10%.
Lactose exports also were higher in October, totaling 32,496 tons, up 12%. Gains were led by a large increase in shipments to New Zealand (+161%) relative to very light activity a year ago when volume was an eight-year low. Shipments to Mexico also were higher, while sales to China and Japan continue to lag.
Shipments of fluid milk/cream continued to post double-digit increases. October volume was up 10% from last year, led by improved sales to Canada (+16%) and new sales to Argentina, Dominican Republic and China. Year-to-date sales are up 15%, on pace for a record high.
Whey exports to China were down 37% in October, bringing the total to -53% for the year. In addition, October shipments to Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea were the lowest of 2019.
Among other products, exports of whole milk powder (-59%), butterfat (-63%),milk protein concentrate (-13%) and blends (-24%) all lagged prior-year levels.
On a total milk solids basis, U.S. exports were equivalent to 15.2% of U.S. milk solids production in October. In the first 10 months of the year, exports accounted for 14.4% of production.
To download a printable PDF summary with charts showing October trade data in detail, click here.
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