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Tariffs spur US to seek new whey markets

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-11-07 01:45

US producers of whey are seeking markets in Southeast Asia other than China because of Chinese tariffs on the byproduct of the cheese-making process, according to dairy industry observers.

In response to US tariffs on Chinese goods, China's government in July imposed an additional 25 percent tariff on whey, milk, cream, yogurt, butter and cheese products.

"When you make cheese, you use 100 pounds of raw milk that produces about 10 pounds of cheese. The liquid that is left over is dried to produce about six pounds of whey," said Robert Cropp, a dairy marketing specialist with the University of Wisconsin Extension in Madison.

He said whey is composed of high-quality protein and is used as a protein enhancement agent in food products. "China uses some in infant formula for babies and also for its swine," Cropp said.

He said data from the US Dairy Export Council shows that US whey exports to China fell 26 percent to 14,635 metric tons in August from year-earlier levels. The US is looking to Southeast Asian countries to make up at least part of the falloff in exports, while China is probably getting whey from European countries, Cropp said.

American dairy producers exported 549,018 tons of whey in 2017, and sales to China accounted for 45 percent of the total or $246 million, according to the council. More than $577 million worth of US dairy products were exported to China last year, making it the third-largest market for American dairy exports, the council said.

David Everett, the Leprino Foods professor of dairy science at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, said that in addition to Southeast Asia, there may be opportunities for US companies to export whey to the Middle East.

Contact the writer at paulwelitzkin@chinadailyusa.com

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