Moving forward, USDEC contends that a major global milk oversupply of the kind that characterized the first half of 2012 is not in the cards for 2013. And even though milk powder inventories have grown in recent months, stock levels appear manageable.
"Global economic signs are starting to move in a more positive direction, demand and consumption will continue rising, and world prices are expected to come more into line with U.S. prices," says Suber.
And while the U.S. industry is shifting its focus to make world markets an integral aspect of the business, more challenges lie ahead.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy noted a number of key objectives necessary for the United States to solidify itself as a consistent global supplier. Work continues on many of those objectives, enumerated in the organization's Globalization Studies in 2009 and 2011, to upgrade the United States' global competitiveness to withstand new and emerging competitors.
"We have a finite window of opportunity to reach a series of consistent exporter goals," says Suber. "The need to quicken the pace in fulfilling some of those key objectives—U.S. pricing policy reform, beneficial trade treaties, tools to manage volatility and various paths to better meet the needs of global customers—stands as urgent as ever."