The CWT Export Assistance program provided assistance in February to four CWT member cooperatives selling 11.2 million pounds of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese to 10 countries on four continents. The product is scheduled to be shipped from March through June 2011. Add to that the 22.7 million pounds of CWT-assisted 2010 cheese sales scheduled to be shipped in the first six months of 2011, and the Export Assistance program will be making a significant contribution to expanding overseas sales.
The 52 million pounds of cheese exports assisted by CWT and shipped in 2010 account for 13.6% of total U.S. cheese shipments. The 17 million pounds of butterfat (in the form of butter and anhydrous milk fat) CWT assisted and shipped in 2010 equaled 14.1% of total butterfat exports. These CWT sales produced an additional $398 million of revenue, adding an average of 18 cents per hundredweight to U.S. producers’ milk checks in 2010.
Some producers have questioned why CWT provides export assistance when the cheese price is $2.00 a pound. The purpose of CWT is to help maintain the role of the U.S. as a consistent, reliable exporter of value-added dairy products, which is not a role that American suppliers have played historically. In the past, the tendency of U.S. manufacturers was to export only what the domestic market would not absorb. By 2008, the export arena became a major buyer of U.S. milk solids, with total sales of 11%.
In 2009, a combination of factors resulted in U.S. dairy product exports dropping 15.5%, the equivalent of 1.7% of total U.S. milk solids produced. However, it was in products that most impact producer milk prices where the biggest drops occurred – cheese exports down 50 million pounds, butter exports down 126 million pounds, and skim milk powder (protein standardized nonfat powder) down 314 million pounds.
In order to prevent a re-occurrence of 2009 in the coming year, CWT must continue to assist U.S. cheese sales in the world marketplace. When the participation in CWT reaches the 75% level necessary for the 2¢ assessment to begin, CWT will be able to add to the products receiving export assistance and maintain U.S. dairy producers’ world market share and reasonable margins.