In the month of March, the US exported 37,190 tonnes of cheese according to the United States Dairy Export Council (USDEC).
This exported volume is a record for March and a 10% y-o-y increase. The growth in exports is down to improved sales to South Korea, Japan and consumers in the Middle East/ North Africa (MENA), Central America and South East Asia. The US’ growing customer base in South Korea was most notable with a 39% y-o-y uplift in March.
These exports offset declining sales to Mexico (-17% y-o-y) and China (-37% y-o-y). The US-China trade war has significantly reduced US competitiveness in China and so the US has been missing out on China’s large dairy import spree in Q1 2019. In the first quarter of 2019, China imported over 850,000 tonnes of dairy products from global suppliers, a 13% y-o-y increase, which is almost equivalent to $3 billion.
The situation is set to worsen too as US President Trump announced plans to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods, which would likely trigger retaliatory tariffs from China. Similarly to China, retaliatory tariffs on US cheese shipments remain in place from Mexico, which is negatively impacting the volumes of US exports to Mexico.