Though final dairy export numbers won't be available until USDA's release at the end of February, preliminary results indicated U.S. dairy exports set a record in 2013, shipping $6.1 billion worth of product in the first 11 months alone – 17% more than the entire year of 2012.
The U.S. Dairy Export Council estimates the final numbers will be somewhere around 30% higher than 2012. It will mark the fourth consecutive year of record U.S. dairy export volume and ninth record year in the past 10.
"The past year marked a major step in U.S. dairy export expansion, not only because of the value and volume gains, but because of the activities of U.S. suppliers and industry organizations to lay the groundwork for future growth," says Tom Suber, president, U.S. Dairy Export Council.
While favorable pricing and supply shortages in New Zealand may have accelerated growth in 2013, overall U.S. performance was not surprising given long-term trends: Demand from a growing middle class in emerging markets and an inability of traditional supply sources to keep pace continue to fuel international dairy trade.
"Even with December data yet to be tallied, we expect volume records in nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder, cheese, high-value whey protein concentrates and isolates, lactose and fluid milk," says Suber. "But the real highlights of the year lie beyond the numbers. More than in previous years, we are seeing a broad acknowledgement of the critical role exports play in the health and growth of the U.S. dairy industry—an acknowledgment that is spurring action that will continue the trend."