February dairy export numbers strong
February might have been a shorter month, but you couldn't tell it by the monthly dairy product, female dairy cattle and hay export estimates released by USDA.
Total solids trade balance
February U.S. dairy exports were equivalent to 12.6% of U.S. milk solids production, the 23rd straight month in which exports have been between 12%-15% of output. Exports were equivalent to 13.3% of U.S. milk solids production in 2011 and 12.8% in 2010. Meanwhile, imports as a percent of milk solids production were just 3.0% in February 2012.
Source: U.S. Dairy Export Council, National Milk Producers Federation.
Dairy exports top $400 million for 12th straight month
The value of February 2012 U.S. dairy exports topped $400 million for the 12th consecutive month. At $437 million, February exports were up 3% from January 2012 and up 11% from February 2011.
At $245 million, February 2012 imports were down 4% from January 2012, but up about 15% from February 2011.
Year-to-date fiscal year (FY) 2012 (October 2011-February 2012) exports were estimated at $2.142 billion, up 27% from the same period a year earlier. FY ’12 imports were estimated at $1.331 billion, up 13%. The FY ’12 dairy trade surplus stands at $811 million.
February 2012 cheese imports were estimated at $75 million, down 3% from January 2011 and 9% less than February 2011. Y-T-D FY ’12 cheese imports are estimated at $476 million, up 2% from the same period in FY ’11.
FY ’12 U.S. dairy trade
Exports Imports Difference
Month $ million $ million $ million
Feb. ’12 437 245 +192
Jan. ’12 426 255 +171
Dec. ’11 430 273 +157
Nov. ’11 438 309 +129
Oct. ’11 411 249 +162
YTD total 2,142 1,331 +811
Source: USDA Economic Research Service
U.S. dairy export volumes improved slightly in February (compared with recent months), boosted
by continued strong sales of milk powder and cheese, according to trade data released April 12 by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. In the December-February period, U.S. exports of dry ingredients (milk powder, whey, lactose), cheese and butterfat were 391,565 tons, up 1% from the previous year.
Nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder exports were stronger in February, increasing 10% from January volume (on a daily average basis) and registering the highest figure since October 2010. In the December-February period, sales to Mexico were up 54% from the prior year, but shipments to Southeast Asia were off 27%. Exports to the Middle East/North Africa were up 2%.
Whey exports slumped in February, with total volume off 9% from January (daily-average basis)
and the lowest since July 2010. China remains the major customer, but in the December-February
period, U.S. whey sales to China were down 3% vs. the prior year. Meanwhile, exports to Mexico
were up 51%.
U.S. cheese exports improved in February vs. previous months. In the December-February period,
shipments to Mexico were steady (+1% vs. prior year), while Japan (+24%) and Saudi Arabia
(+41%) posted strong gains. However, shipments to South Korea dropped 32%.
Butterfat export volumes remained light in February. In the December-February period, leading butterfat customers were Saudi Arabia and Iran.
U.S. dairy cattle exports remain strong
February U.S. female dairy cattle exports topped 6,000 head for the fourth time in five months, with Russia again the leading destination for most of them, according to USDA’s Foreign Ag Service.
February 2012 exports totaled 6,440 head, bringing the year-to-date (Y-T-D) total to 10,947 head, compared to 8,162 head for the same period in record-setting 2011.
Russia imported 4,438 U.S. dairy replacement females in February, bringing its Y-T-D total to 7,038 head, or about 65% of all U.S. exports so far this year.
Last year’s leading U.S. female dairy cattle export market, Turkey, imported 1,226 head in February, for a two-month total of 1,954.
Other substantial markets were Canada, 400 head; and the United Arab Emirates, 346.
February alfalfa hay exports a record
February U.S. alfalfa hay exports topped 150,000 metric tons for the fifth time in six months, according to USDA’s Foreign Ag Service. February alfalfa hay exports totaled 167,933 metric tons, quite possibly the largest volume on record, and bringing the 2012 two-month total to 310,473 metric tons.
Previous high monthly total alfalfa hay exports were 163,034 metric tons in December 2010 and 162,213 metric tons in May 2009.
Japan was again the leading monthly U.S. alfalfa hay market, importing 53,187 metric tons in February, for a two-month total of 99,471 metric tons, about 32% of the U.S. Y-T-D total.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) imported 45,977 metric tons of U.S. alfalfa hay in February, bringing its 2012 total to 87,007 metric tons, or about 28% of all U.S. exports so far this year.
China, South Korea and Taiwan rounded out the top five markets, both for the month and year-to-date.
U.S. exports of other hay in February totaled 151,014 metric tons, for a two-month total to 301,697 metric tons. Japan imported 180,462 metric tons of other hay from the U.S. during the first two months of 2012, or nearly 60% of the total. South Korea, China, UAE and Taiwan (in order) rounded out the top five markets for other hay, both in February and year-to-date.