US Dairy Volume Exports Hit All-Time High in 2020

Export values totaled more than $6 billion for the first time since 2014.

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WASHINGTON — Despite significant disruptions in trade throughout 2020, the United States exported nearly 2.4 million metric tons of dairy goods last year — a record-setting mark, according to data released today by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Michael Dykes, D.V.M., President and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) issued the following statement:

Image001“Last year was yet another banner year for U.S. dairy exports, a testament to the resilience, innovation, and growth of the U.S. dairy industry. While logistical issues challenged the industry in 2020 and some continue today, U.S. dairy exports maintained an accelerated pace throughout the year. Export volumes were boosted by 10 percent over 2019, setting an all-time record for export volumes in one year and pushing export values to more than $6 billion for the first time since 2014.

“A look at the United States’ top markets shows positive trends with trading partners new and old. Export volumes and value are up over 2019 levels in 9 of our top 10 markets. Some Asian markets — China, Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia — saw increases between 40-50% in value over 2019, with correlating increases in volume to those markets. In fact, the few countries in the top 20 export markets that did decline by volume all have known tariff and non-tariff barriers in place, on which IDFA has been advocating with our U.S. government colleagues.

I Stock 629210154iStock“Two decades ago, U.S. dairy was almost completely a domestic market. But the past 20 years have been transformational. During that time, U.S. dairy exports increased 5X, and the United States became the world’s third-largest dairy product exporter. Now, we export approximately 15% of U.S. milk production.

“With more than 95 percent of potential customers living outside the United States, expanding access to international markets is essential for the future America’s dairy industry. We cannot achieve this growth alone — we need the Administration’s support and the support of our elected officials to continue growth in U.S. dairy exports.”

Additional Background on USDA’s Export Data Release

USDA today released U.S. agricultural export data for December 2020, completing the full picture for exports in 2020. In total, dairy exports were $6,452,903,000, up 9% from 2019. Here are the top five markets and products:

Top 5 markets (value):

  • Mexico: $1,415,827,000 – down 8% from 2019
  • Canada: $675,993,000 – up 1% from 2019
  • China: $539,059,000 – up 45% from 2019
  • Philippines: $409,855,000 – up 50% from 2019
  • S. Korea: $370,481,000 – up 12% from 2019

Top 5 products (value):

  • Milk powder, <1.5% fat (0402.10): $2,011,058,000 – up 22% from 2019
  • Fresh cheeses (0406.10), cheese all kinds (0406.20), and cheeses mixed (0406.90): $1,304,763,000 total – down 2% and up 21% and 5% from 2019, respectively
  • Milk albumin, including concentrates of whey proteins (3502.20): $355,917,000 – up 6% from 2019
  • Lactose (1702.11): $317,326,000 – up 10% from 2019
  • Infant formula (1901.10): $292,813,000 – down 6% from 2019


The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation’s dairy manufacturing and marketing industry, which supports more than 3 million jobs that generate $159 billion in wages and $620 billion in overall economic impact.

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