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U.S. Dairy Exports Set Another Record in 2008

Feb 17, 2009

By Rob Blaufuss, IDFA Economic Analyst

Strong world dairy prices and continued high demand levels for U.S. dairy products led to another record-setting year in 2008, in both total value and total quantity traded. The value of 2008 dairy exports was $3.75 billion, up 26 percent over 2007. Total volume of non-fluid products traded rose 13.4 percent over 2007, to reach just over 3 billion pounds. The trade balance for U.S. dairy products increased from $174 million in 2007 to $706.8 million in 2008.

Nonfat dry milk exports constituted the largest total export volume at 862.8 million pounds, up 52.7 percent over 2007. Although dry whey exports declined 17.5 percent over year-ago levels, they were still the second highest exported dairy product with 772.4 million pounds exported. Lactose exports increased by 9.4 million pounds, making them the third most exported dairy product in 2008. Rounding out the top five were other dairy products, such as infant formula, albumin and malted milk (282.8 million pounds), and cheese and curd (289.8 million pounds).

Nonfat dry milk was also the main driver in terms of total dairy export dollar sales, accounting for $1.38 billion, or 37percent of total export value. Cheese and curd exports were the second largest source of dairy export revenue in 2008, up 46.8 percent over 2007 to $569.8 million. Dry whey ($514.5 million), other dairy products ($443.1 million), and butter and milk fat ($271.7 million) rounded out this top five.

Mexico and Canada remained the largest purchasers of U.S. dairy products in 2008. These two countries purchased significant amounts of nonfat dry milk, cheese and other dairy products. The Philippines imported $210 million in dairy products, followed closely by Indonesia ($209.2 million). Japan rounded out the top five by importing $208 million worth of dairy products. These five countries alone accounted for 52 percent of the total dairy export revenues in 2008.

While total exports far outpaced total imports for the year, that trend changed in recent months. In December 2008, total imports were $115.8 million more than total exports, or 57.4 percent higher. As a whole, total export revenue in December 2008 was 34 percent lower than December 2007 export revenue, or $104.3 million.

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