March 10, 2014 — We continue to see strong growth in U.S. dairy exports with over 15 percent of dairy production going overseas. Tom Suber, president of the U.S. Dairy Export
Council, reported to Utah dairy producers at their recent convention in St. George.
He said processors need to continue to make the product the customer wants – like whole milk powder and Gouda cheese. He says we also need to continue to identify the trends in the markets.
“What do buyers want? What are the issues on trade that are a problem? Where can they develop new categories based on dairy’s nutrition?” Suber asked. “All of this trying to help the industry and farmers work together to make sure this continues to grow.”
While processors must do their part, Suber told producers they have to continue to watch their margins.
“If producers aren’t healthy, no one is healthy,” he said. Also, as buyers want more milk from the U.S., producers should look where they can expand profitably because demand is straining supply that’s leading to these higher prices.
“These big buyers are saying ‘Where can I get more milk?’ and they want the right milk in the right form, meaning product, and the right quality,” he said.
The U.S. dairy industry continues to build new facilities to accommodate the world market. Last month, Hilmar Cheese Co. announced plans to build a milk powder processing facility in Turlock, CA. Hilmar is also expanded its cheese and why processing facility in Dalhart, Texas.
Dairy Farmers of America’s new powder plant in Fallon, Nev., is expected to open this summer. Glanbia Foods is home to two processing plants in Gooding, Idaho that separately produce cheese and whey.
Suber said the tighter specifications on milk powder can’t be underestimated.
“We use our milk powder here for things differently than they do overseas,” Suber said. “They need a lower microbiological count for when they re-hydrate this product than we do here, and we need to meet that need.”
Meanwhile, U.S. dairy exports grew 19 percent in January from a year ago, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council. January exports alone were worth $584 million, this after a record 2013 for exports.