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U.S. dairy exports to Southeast Asia have been weak to start 2023

22.07.2023 08:17 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) According to the report of the USDA Dairy: World Markets and Trade (July 2023), U.S. dairy exports to Southeast Asia have been weak to start 2023. Resilient global milk production, currently on a 10-month streak of annual gains on monthly basis dating back to last July, has put downward pressure on prices of manufactured dairy commodities. Through May, exports of dairy products on a value basis to Southeast Asia have totaled $561 million, down 33 percent from the same period last year. There have been broad declines across multiple commodities, including skimmed milk powder, whey and cheese. This is coming in a period where SMP prices are down 37 percent and whey prices are 52 percent from the peak in February 2022.

As the world enters a post-COVID lockdown world, governments are now under pressure to reign in fiscal spending and combat high food inflation, which have reached an all-time in high in many countries in the region, typically done via higher interest rates. In the Philippines, food inflation reached 11 percent, driven by increases in dietary staples like vegetables. Increasing food costs have forced consumers to reduce discretionary spending (a category which includes spending on dairy products which are not a major part of traditional diets). Lower discretionary spending is impacting both the restaurant industry and retail purchases. Demand for whey and lactose has also fallen in several countries. In Vietnam, swine herds continue to recover from African swine fever, reducing demand for whey and lactose for feed use (export volumes to Vietnam for both products are down 11 and 23 percent, respectively). In the Philippines, another market that has been impacted by ASF, exports of whey and lactose have fallen 26 and 9 percent, respectively. There also continue to be regulatory pressures in Southeast Asia hindering U.S. dairy exporters this year, specifically halal certifications processes.

The development of dairy exports on the global market has been one of the biggest success stories for U.S. agriculture over the last 2 decades. Growth in the Southeast Asa market has been an important factor in expanding exports from $1 billion in 2003 to $9.5 billion in 2022 (dairy exports to Southeast Asia totaled $1.7 billion in 2022, the third largest regional market in the world for dairy exports behind North America and East Asia). U.S. dairy exporters have captured sizeable market share, but stiff competition continues from Oceania and the European Union, which benefit from long-standing trading infrastructure in the region and tariff advantages granted in free trade agreements. The recently established Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) is a potential avenue to gaining similar advantages for U.S. agriculture in the region.

Agro Perspectiva

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