April US exports increased across every product category we track in YOY terms, led by cheese with a 51% expansion (up 13,687t) relative to the same month last year. Most of the growth was in South Korea and Mexico, but also with healthy gains in Central and South America, Australia and Japan. The huge YOY growth also reflected a weak prior year comparable – April 2020 US cheese exports were weakened by the breakout of COVID.
The overall expansion was no doubt boosted by the improved situation at west coast ports, which enabled traders to move a backlog of shipments from Q4-20 and Q1-21. Among other key products, exports of dry whey rose 29.5% (or 11,194t) – China & HK continues to be the dominant market, having expanded by nearly 50,000t between January and April. Shipments of NFDM/SMP were ahead 16% (or 10,559t), as Mexican buyers came back to the market given 85% of the country is facing severe drought. In addition there were stronger shipments into MENA – a relatively new market for US-based suppliers. The April expansion in NFDM/SMP was despite a 27% fall in shipments to SE Asia. Exports of butter were the strongest since 2014 given the relative price competitiveness of the US versus Europe and New Zealand. April shipments rose 257% YOY, bringing year to date exports 146% ahead of the 2020 comparable.