The trade winds blowing

There is a shift afoot in global dairy trading. According to industry analysts Rabobank, “China’s monumental achievement in self-sufficiency in milk production, representing a staggering 11 million metric tons from 2018 to 2023, has left an indelible mark on the global dairy sector. The country’s whole milk powder (WMP) imports plunged from an average of 670,000 metric tonnes between 2018 and 2022 to a mere 430,000 metric tonnes in 2023,” says Mary Ledman, the dairy global strategist at the bank.

The global dairy trade is important for several countries that are small in size but large in dairy exports – Ireland and New Zealand, to name just two. However, as the landscape shifts, these exporters then have to look for new places to sell their products, Rabobank reports. “New Zealand accounts for less than 3% of world cow milk production but over 25% of global dairy trade. As the primary dairy exporter to China, it must now find alternative markets for the milk equivalent of nearly 150,000 metric tons of WMP. Almost 1.3 million metric tonnes of milk – equivalent to 6% of New Zealand’s annual milk production – is now in search of import destinations in the form of WMP, skim milk powder (SMP), milkfat, and cheese,” it says.

There are signs that New Zealand exports are starting to show up Algeria, which is usual EU and US export territory. However, as a larger importer, these countries will go up the list, as China’s self-sufficiency grows further. The trade pathways are shifting, and wherever you are in the dairy industry, get ready to move with it if you’re exporting.

And, to keep up with the dairy sector, don’t miss the International Cheese & Dairy Expo, held in conjunction with the 128-year old International Cheese and Dairy Awards on 27 June in Stafford. Right in the heart of cheese making and milk producing country, the awards and the Expo are not to be missed. See you there!

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