WASHINGTON – New figures released by the US Department of Agriculture on Feb. 7 revealed that US dairy exports totaled $9.5 billion in 2022, easily surpassing the industry’s previous record of $7.6 billion, set in 2021. It marked the third year in a row that US dairy exports recorded new highs.

US dairy exports also established a new record for volume, totaling 2.82 million metric tons in 2022.

The newly released numbers indicate that US dairy exports have increased by 85% in the past 10 years, while volume has grown by 52% in that span, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) shared.

“Today’s export figures represent the pace at which the US dairy industry is innovating and capitalizing on opportunities to sell US-made dairy products overseas,” said Michael Dykes, president and chief executive officer for IDFA. “Consumers in the United States and around the world continue to demand more US dairy because we provide an assortment of delicious, nutritious, affordable and sustainable dairy products. From high-value whey to award-winning cheeses, from milk powders used to make life-saving products for children and adults to safe and nutritious, shelf-stable milk, US dairy is known throughout the world for quality and reliability. We are poised to become the world’s leading supplier of dairy products thanks to the resilience and innovation of American dairy exporters and dairy foods companies.”

Dykes noted the market for US dairy products “was almost entirely domestic” 30 years ago and now the US dairy industry exports roughly 18% of its milk products.

Mexico, Canada, China and the Philippines are the top four markets abroad for US dairy. The US Dairy Export Council shared that Mexico became the first $2 billion US dairy export market, with sales growing by 37% to reach $2.5 billion in 2022.

“As US milk production continues to increase over the next decade while other dairy-producing competitors see decreasing production, the US government must ensure there are functioning, efficient avenues for US dairy exports to meet growing global demand,” Dykes said. “IDFA urges the Biden Administration and Congress to pursue new free trade agreements in emerging markets for US dairy and to continue to hold trading partners with whom we have agreements to their commitments.”

The USDEC highlighted that cheese exports in 2022 saw sales gains of 18% in Mexico, 41% in the Middle East and North Africa, 17% in Japan, 17% in Central America, 25% in the Caribbean, 9% in South Korea, 14% in Australia and 28% in Colombia.

“We’ve had three consecutive years of record US dairy exports while facing some of the strongest dairy export headwinds that we’ve ever seen,” said Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the USDEC. “Last year, we saw historic global inflation, slowing economic growth, lingering supply chain challenges and severely reduced Chinese demand. US dairy export performance under those conditions is a testament to US suppliers’ commitment to global markets and also to the value consumers in those markets have come to place on US dairy products.”