Huge. Wide open. Growing appetite. These are words being used to describe the global demand for U.S. dairy products. The industry is strong at home, but as the U.S. Dairy Export Council reports, “beyond our shores, demand for dairy products is perhaps growing even faster — even in countries whose diets and cultures traditionally had little room for milk products.”
And market liberalization, despite the recent setback in WTO talks, is helping drive unprecedented growth opportunities for U.S. dairy processors looking to get into the export game.
Among dairy export commodities, exports of skim milk powder rose nearly 75 percent between 1995 and 2005, according to USDEC data. Cheese exports rose nearly 95 percent; exports of whey proteins jumped 169 percent, while lactose soared more than 236 percent. As tariffs and other barriers to international trade continue to be stripped away, those numbers are certain to rise higher.
Meanwhile, R&D and market-building efforts by savvy processors are proving to be wise investments. “The opportunities facing U.S. dairy export companies today are undeniably strong,” USDEC president Tom Huber says. “Foreign consumers have more cash to spend on better protein sources and they’ve become better educated about dairy’s natural goodness, versatility and nutritional benefits.”
Our global report in this issue gets into even greater detail on the burgeoning global dairy market and the efforts by U.S. processors to seize the day. And as the global market swells in importance to U.S. companies, Dairy Field and USDEC have partnered to recognize worldly marketing efforts with the Exporter of the Year Award; the first-ever winner is revealed at the end of the global report that begins on page 58.
The world recently changed in a big way for a bunch of folks in our industry. About 100 members of the Sargento Foods team found out earlier this month they’ll get to split a Powerball lottery jackpot of nearly $209 million. Not surprisingly, considering the commitment of so many folks in this industry, quite a few of them say they’re in no hurry to leave their jobs.
I’ve met a lot of people in my visits to processors across the country, from front office to loading dock, and a more dedicated bunch of folks you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. So I think it’s great that such a blessing finally made its way to some of the individuals who are slugging it out for dairy, day in and day out.
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