Canadian dairy product per capita consumption is publicly updated every quarter by the federal government.
Canadian dairy imports and exports are tallied on a monthly basis by Statistics Canada, comparing data to the same time period during the year before. Boring stuff, but also accurate as to trends.
There has been a lot of quota handed out lately and according to data, not rhetoric, is it due to increased consumption, decreasing imports and/or increasing exports for the first time in years?
We’re seeing unprecedented market growth, say Ontario dairy leaders, especially mentioning unexpected great growth in the cream, yogurt and cheese sectors due to consumption. The actual Statistics Canada per capita consumption numbers don’t show such a big shift. Compare Canadian consumption for the first three quarters of 2015 and 2016 (see chart) for six dairy products. Some have increased slightly. Some have decreased slightly. Some have remained much the same.
Ice cream and butter consumption have increased the most but are the least consumed of the six products.
Then there are Canadian dairy imports which I invite you all to Google.
As of the end of October 2016, they show overall an 11.5 per cent increase in volume and a 4.9 per cent increase in value over the past two years or 200 million kg of foreign dairy products at CDN $899 million, mostly coming from the United States.
A footnote on the bottom of the data states that since July 2016, all imports have to be declared on a “consistent basis,” meaning the full weight including water.
Therefore, “data from July 2016 onwards is not comparable to prior data,” states the footnote. Hence this would mean we can’t be totally sure when comparing exact numbers, even though they are posted.
But if one looks at U.S. data on dairy exports from the U.S. into Canada, we see an increase of 12 per cent increase in volume in the last year.
Then there are dairy exports from Canada, which had been steadily going down over the years. Not any more. Last year was the first time in years that Canadian dairy exports increased and they didn’t just increase. They shot up.
Canadian data shows — this is not a typo — that ice cream exports increased by 1,570 % in volume and 994 % in value in 2016 over 2015. Skim milk powder exports recorded a 72 % volume increase and 43 % value increase.
Butter exports — and there is supposed to be a Canadian shortage — increased
36 % in volume and 21 % in value.
Lump all Canadian dairy exports together and you get exports averaging a 20 % increase in volume and 9 % in value in 2016.
Bruno Letendre, chairman of the Quebec milk marketing board, has made no secret of the fact that the extra quota being issued due to a cheaper class six, has only resulted in processors cranking out more exports.
In a Jan. 13 Facebook posting, right after the DFO annual meeting, Letendre clarified what class 6 milk has achieved in the marketplace. “We have released this ambition for the help of export.”
Ian Cumming is a former Glengarry County dairy farmer and now farms with his son in northern New York state.