BOISE — The value of Idaho agricultural exports in 2013 reached a record level for the third straight year.
The value of all Idaho ag products sold to other countries totaled $979 million last year, a 6 percent increase over the 2012 total of $922 million, which was a 10.5 percent increase over the then-record total of $834 million in 2011.
According to Idaho State Department of Agriculture data, exports to the state’s top four destinations for farm products rose in 2013.
Ag exports to Canada totaled $188 million, a 2.4 percent increase, exports to Mexico totaled $172 million, an 8 percent increase, and they reached $105 million to China, a 7 percent increase.
The value of Gem State farm products sold to South Korea jumped 30 percent to $62 million. That increase was led by the sale of dairy products, which represented 66 percent of total Idaho ag exports to that country.
Idaho ag exports to Japan fell 24 percent to $49 million. Gem State ag exports to that country have fallen sharply since 2011, when they totaled $80 million.
Laura Johnson, who manages ISDA’s market development division, said Japan’s economic challenges and the devaluation of the yen, which makes U.S. products more expensive, are factors in that decline.
She said it’s too early to forecast whether Idaho farm exports will continue to grow in 2014 and ongoing drought conditions will play a factor in that.
“Global demand still looks good and the economic factors all look promising,” she said. “The real question mark (is) what the impact of the drought will be on our production this year.”
The 2013 increase in Idaho ag sales abroad was led by the dairy category, which grew 16 percent to $314 million.
Dry milk exports accounted for 41 percent of that amount, whey 31 percent and cheese 20 percent.
Jon Davis, CEO of Davisco Foods, the parent company of Jerome Cheese Co. in Idaho, said world demand for dairy products is good but global production has been less than stellar.
He expects world production to increase but also for demand to stay strong and he anticipates Idaho and U.S. dairy exports will continue to grow this year but at a smaller rate.
“I think (dairy exports) are poised for continued growth,” he said. “But I think those growth percentages that we’ve had will temper a little bit.”
Exports of both dehydrated and fresh potatoes also increased. Dehydrated potato exports totaled $30 million, a 42 percent increase, and fresh potato sales were up 32 percent to $8.6 million.
Idaho Potato Commission President and CEO Frank Muir said the commission has put more emphasis on growing the potato industry’s international business the last eight years and those efforts have accelerated the last few years.
Sales of fresh potatoes in three of the countries the IPC has concentrated on, Canada, Mexico and Panama, rose 18 percent, 88 percent and 106 percent, respectively, in 2013.