The United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) released its latest global dairy markets and trade report in December 2023. The report provides their forecast of 2024 global dairy markets. International demand for U.S. dairy products is expected to remain weak in key importing countries this year as general economic growth remains slowed by higher interest rates, reducing consumer spending on dairy products.
USDA-FAS forecasts 2024 U.S. dairy exports to expand by 6.4% on a milk equivalent skim-solids basis and 8.2% on a milk equivalent milkfat basis. Growth in skim milk powder and dried whey products drives much of the elevation on a skim-solids basis.
The report shows little change in 2024 milk production in countries important to global dairy trade. Annual milk production in both the European Union and New Zealand is expected to decline slightly in 2024, while Australia shows minimal growth. The U.S. is forecast to have the largest absolute rise of the major milk-producing countries.
USDA-FAS also forecasts U.S. cheese exports will grow by 33,000 metric tons in 2024. Japanese cheese imports are projected to grow by 15,000 metric tons but remain below the level imported in 2020.
U.S. nonfat dry milk exports are forecasted to reach 835,000 metric tons in 2024, up 23,000 metric tons from 2023. However, that would be below the 893,000 metric tons the U.S. exported in 2021. Mexican nonfat dry milk imports are expected to show annual growth of 10,000 metric tons in 2024 after growing by 47,000 metric tons in 2023. Chinese imports of nonfat dry milk and whole milk powder are projected to decline in 2024. The combined markets of Mexico and China account for about half of total world nonfat dry milk imports.
The USDA-FAS report suggests that 2024 U.S. milk prices will not see a significant lift from more U.S. dairy product exports. With many projections expecting 2024 U.S. milk production to grow by 2 billion pounds, domestic dairy demand will need to strengthen if milk prices are to move higher in 2024.