BOISE — The value of Idaho agricultural exports during the first three months of the year increased 24 percent over the same period in 2013 and are on pace to break the $1 billion mark for the year.
Idaho has set annual records for total ag exports for three straight years and 2014 got off to a good start.
Idaho ag exports during the first quarter of the year totaled $295 million, a 24 percent increase over last year’s $238 million total during the January to March time period.
The increase is largely attributed to a significant rise in dairy sales abroad. The value of Idaho dairy exports totaled $99.7 million during the first quarter, a 94 percent increase over the 2013 number.
“That’s exciting news,” Kuna dairyman Jack Davis said about the increase in dairy exports. “That’s what’s keeping our price up.”
Dairy exports accounted for 33.8 percent of total Idaho agricultural exports during the first quarter, up from 21.6 percent during the same period in 2013 and 26.5 percent in 2012.
“We’re talking about our No. 1 ag export sector being up 94 percent. That’s just huge,” said Laura Johnson, who manages the Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s market development division.
Under the dairy category, there was a 230 percent increase in cheese sales, which totaled $36 million, up from $11 million in 2013.
Sales of whey increased 45 percent to $27.7 million and butter sales increased 451 percent to $14.7 million.
There were also strong increases in other sectors, including the “miscellaneous seed, grain and fruit” category, which increased 15 percent to $52 million, and the “vegetables” category, which rose 14 percent to $48.7 million.
The “milling, malt and starch” category, which includes potato flakes, increased 19 percent to $25.7 million and “preserved foods” rose 11 percent to $19.6 million.
There were decreases in other categories, including a 27 percent decrease in the “sugars” category, which includes dairy lactose, a 9 percent decrease in “food waste” exports and a 23 percent drop in the “baking related” and “beverages” categories.
Idaho ag exports to Canada, the top destination for Idaho farm products, rose 13 percent to $70 million during the first quarter, and they increased 6 percent ($42 million) to Mexico, the No. 2 market.
There were large increases to the next six top markets: South Korea (89 percent, $24.5 million), Japan, (34 percent, $19 million), China (28 percent, $18.7 million), Netherlands (54 percent, $13 million), Spain (93.7 percent, $8 million) and the Philippines (125 percent, $7.7 million).
Exports to Indonesia dropped 34 percent ($7.5 million) and they decreased 56 percent ($3.5 million) to Malaysia.
Idaho ag exports totaled a record $979 million last year, a 6 percent increase over the 2012 record of $922 million, which was a 10.5 percent increase over the $834 million record in 2011.