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Record US Dairy Exports in 2018

A record number of dairy products were exported in 2018 despite retaliatory tariffs and a global oversupply says the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Shipments for the year were up nine per cent from 2017 and were up two percent and valued at $5.6 billion. The U.S. also reclaimed its title as the world’s largest exporter of cheese last year.  

“In the face of retaliatory tariffs, global oversupply, weak commodity markets and other challenging headwinds, exports rose to an equivalent of 15.8% of U.S. milk solids production in 2018, the highest percentage ever in a calendar year,” says Alan Levitt, USDEC vice president of communications and market analysis.

The largest increase was seen in whole milk powder shipments, up 80 per cent, and butterfat sales, up more than 60 per cent.

Shipments in December and November were down on the year mostly because of lost Chinese sales and retaliatory tariffs. The U.S. did reclaim the top cheese exporter spot in the world.

However, the enthusiasm for exports was dampened by a decline in volume sales of 21% and the value of those sales down 9% in December. In November, sales volume was down 12, and down 11% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

“Loss of sales to China—America’s third-largest single-country market—followed mid-year retaliatory tariffs, playing a role in the year-end decline,” says Levitt. Sales to China in the first half of 2018 were up 17%, but then dropped by a third in the final six months, he says. Sales to Japan also fell 10% in the second half of 2018.


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