When the dairy market is expanded to a global perspective, often the conversation shifts to our competitors and how to best them. During the May 13 episode of DairyLivestream, Cornell’s Andrew Novakovic emphasized the importance of paying attention to the “long game” in exports and looking specifically at our buyers and how we can best meet their needs.
“When we opened up dairy trade in 1996, suddenly, we started to learn a lot more about what was going on in the world, but our focus tended to be on other major milk producing countries,” he said. “To be successful in exporting, we have to know what our competitors are doing but really our focus should be on our customer and gaining more intelligence and more insight about those customers is going to be key to our success.”
He went on to explain that gained insight in those areas can make us better at selling the products those countries or buyers are most interested in and building customer relationships.
“Having a strong relationship with folks in the U.S. can be a great leverage for us as well. A good deal of the U.S. success with exports is what I call ‘following your customer,’” Novakovic explained. “We sell Mozzarella cheese in all kinds of places not because there are folks sitting around wanting Mozzarella cheese, but because they want to eat at a pizza chain that is of U.S. origin. Part of this is leveraging our domestic success into an international environment.”
He concluded with this thought, “In the current environment, sometimes we’re a little bit conflicted about whether or not being part of a global market is such a good thing. We can debate the pros and cons of this country or that country, but the fact of the matter is that trade is making our pie bigger and if we didn’t have it, we’d have a smaller industry.”
You can read more about our biggest opportunities for growth in the Intel "Do you want to give your cows a day off?”
The importance of this shift in mindset is finding the next opportunity rather than trying to undercut markets that have already been established. During the webcast “Where are dairy exports headed?” panelists Novakovic, Tom Vilsack from the U.S. Dairy Export Council, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Mark Stephenson, and Dairy Market New’s Butch Speth elaborated on the importance of finding and maintaining markets.
Specifically mentioned were efforts to identify opportunities to market higher value products rather than just surplus. That’s an important shift in thought that has occurred over the course of the past 15 years in dairy exports and one this group would recommend continues.
Singapore is just one area highlighted by former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The U.S. Dairy Export Council has established a Center for Dairy Excellence there with the goal of learning more about preferences for dairy products in Southeast Asia and expanding the U.S.’s market presence there.
An ongoing series of events
“The dairy farm finance pivot” will be the topic for the May 20 DairyLivestream. Panelists will include Sam Miller, managing director of agricultural banking at BMO Harris Bank. In this role, Miller works with farmers and agribusinesses on credit structure and financial analysis. Roger Murray will also join the discussion; he serves as the executive vice president of Farm Credit East.
As always, the panel of experts will discuss over 30 minutes of audience questions. If you haven’t joined a DairyLivestream broadcast yet, register here. Registering once registers you for all future broadcasts.