Ah, protein –a building block of life. That refreshing post-exercise recovery drink, that yogurt in a school lunch box, that succulent cut of meat, those humble but mighty dry beans. All rich with exquisite chains of amino acids that repair your cells and make new ones. Without protein, we are nothing. With it, we are human, and resilient.
So it’s no wonder that, as people become wealthier, one of the first things they seek out is protein – both more protein and higher-quality protein. And just as protein is a basic need for life, that may be the basic reason why dairy – coveted for its protein and unparalleled in its quality, has been steadily rising as a share of global protein consumption for the entire 21st century. From our friends at the NMPF/USDEC Economics Unit:
From just under 11.5 percent of global protein consumption to just over 13 percent today, dairy keep inching upward in serving global protein needs. Combine that with the fact that global population itself is growing, and you have a recipe for profound growth in coming decades. Higher population + higher incomes that help consumers meet their daily nutrition needs and access quality nutrients = rising dairy demand.
And who is supplying that dairy? Increasingly, the United States, which saw record exports in 2020, 2021 and 2022. With world-leading sustainability and productivity, U.S. dairy exports have powerhouse potential for a powerhouse product, providing protein to a world in which demand will only rise.
So if you ever hear anyone doubt the importance of dairy exports, or wonder whether international trade is critical to the industry’s future, just show them this chart and say, “It’s the protein, stupid.” Because protein isn’t going away, and dairy’s only becoming more important to providing it. Now that’s a block to build on.