US whey reached record high prices on the week commencing on 2nd March of 2022, at USD 1,776/MT. Since then, US monthly average whey prices have steadily declined for five consecutive months to USD 1,110/MT on the week starting on 10th August of 2022, down by 8.9% year-on-year and the lowest price since February 2021.
Sustained production growth and low demand in both domestic and international markets were the main drivers for the US whey dip in prices. As a result, US whey inventories have built up, to 69.03 million pounds at the end of June, up almost 12% compared to the same period last year.
However, US whey exports did their best month of the year in June (+20% month-on-month and +10,182 tonnes) at 62,321 tonnes. The uptick in demand from China due to the rebound in Chinese pig prices, which peaked in July, was the main contributor. Consequently, Chinese whey imports grew significantly by 18.9% month-on-month in June to reach 51,296 tonnes. US whey exports made up almost 50% of total Chinese whey imports with 26,638 tonnes in June, achieving the most whey (excluding WPC80+) exported to China in a single month, including during the months of herd rebuilding from African Swine Fever.
Despite stronger international demand, US whey prices kept falling. With expected low domestic demand and ample inventories, US whey prices are likely to continue declining in the following quarter.