The country’s milk import bill rose by nearly 14.3 percent to a record $1.13 billion as traders increased their purchases of dairy products to meet growing local demand.
The latest data from the National Dairy Authority (NDA) showed that the total value of dairy products imported last year reached $1.129 billion, $141.44 million over the $807.72 million recorded in 2018.
This is the first time that the country’s milk import bill breached the $1-billion mark.
Also, total volume of milk imports in 2018 reached a record-high of 2.969 million metric tons (MMT) in liquid milk equivalent (LME), slightly higher than the 2.939 MMT-LME in 2018, NDA data showed.
The average import cost of milk products during the reference period was pegged at $0.38 per liter (P19.7 per liter), higher than the $0.34 per liter quotation (P17.70 per liter) in 2018, according to NDA data.
NDA data also showed that the average unit cost of imported milk went up as the price of evaporated milk jumped to $1.50 per liter, from $0.28 per liter in 2018. Quotations for other milk products, including skim milk and whole milk, were also higher last year.
New Zealand remained as the country’s top import source for milk products, accounting for 36.6 percent of the Philippines’s import bill, followed by the United States.
New Zealand’s total milk exports to the Philippines last year expanded by 10.52 percent to $413.32 million, from $373.97 million in 2018. Volume of shipment grew by 3.21 percent to 750,090 MT-LME from 726,730 MT-LME.
The country’s milk import bill from the US rose by 8.55 percent to $226.89 million, from $209.01 million while shipments in terms of volume fell by an annualized 13 percent.
In its Dairy Market Review report, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said world dairy prices in 2019 were higher due to tight global supply.
FAO said its Dairy Price Index in 2019 grew to a two-year high of 198.7 points, indicating the increase in global milk and dairy prices.
The Philippines virtually imports all its milk requirements, as local production remains miniscule compared to the country’s huge demand.
In January, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will seek more funds from Congress for its new dairy road map which details strategies to improve local milk production.
The DA also said it would encourage the private sector, local government units and other concerned agencies to invest in the local dairy industry.
In particular, the DA said the Philippine Carabao Center and the NDA would ”massively improve the genetics of dairy buffaloes and cattle to produce 7 liters and 18 liters, respectively.”
The DA said the country’s milk output last year grew by 5.4 percent to 23.69 million liters. However, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said this volume is not enough to meet the demand of Filipinos for dairy products.