For the first time in its 25-year history, the U.S. Dairy Export Council opened an overseas facility, the U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence (U.S. CDE), Wednesday – unveiling a facility in Singapore with enhanced resources and innovative programming to accelerate market development for U.S. dairy in Southeast Asia.
Funded by U.S. dairy farmers and processors through the National Dairy Checkoff, the U.S. CDE represents a gateway for collaboration between the U.S. dairy community and Southeast Asia’s food and beverage stakeholders, the culinary community, health professionals and other partners. The center’s focus is on inspiring regionally tailored nutrition and innovation solutions with U.S. dairy ingredients and cheeses.
“The U.S. Center for Dairy Excellence creates an education hub and meeting place where relationships can be developed and strengthened, where we can share market intelligence and insights, spark ideation, lead research, and share the remarkable story of U.S. Dairy’s sustainable production,” said Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDEC president and CEO. “It represents a long-term commitment by the U.S. Dairy industry to the region and exports, and recognition of the importance of Southeast Asia as an innovation hub.”
Demand for U.S. Dairy’s growing portfolio of high-quality, sustainably produced dairy products has steadily climbed in Southeast Asia in recent years as customers have come to appreciate the variety and versatility of U.S. cheese and dairy ingredients, such as milk powders, dairy protein, lactose and permeate. In 2019, the region was the second largest destination for U.S. dairy by volume (457,000 MT), after Mexico, with an export value of $928 million. U.S. Dairy exports to the region grew in value by $242 million from 2017 to 2019 and are on track to finish 2020 with record high value. Southeast Asia is well on pace in 2020 to be the top market of U.S. dairy exports by volume, according to USDEC.
USDEC has been active in developing the market for U.S. Dairy in the Southeast Asia since 1998. “Southeast Asia’s dynamic and innovative food sector is a key reason we selected it for the U.S. CDE, along with deep appreciation for our relationships there,” said Vikki Nicholson-West, executive director, USDEC Singapore Ltd.
The center features a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, ISO standard-based sensory evaluation lab, meeting and training rooms and the latest video broadcasting capabilities. While pandemic social distancing guidelines will constrain the ability to host guests in person until 2021, virtual programming from the U.S. CDE will commence on Nov. 18 with an online seminar on Healthy Active Aging with U.S. Dairy Proteins featuring nutrition experts from Singapore and Japan.
VIP guests virtual toured the site’s key features showcasing how the U.S. CDE can further support customers and partners in the region. The center also complements USDEC’s partnership formed in 2018 with Singapore Polytechnic’s Food Innovation & Resource Centre to conduct joint research and innovation projects and bring U.S. suppliers closer to the buyers and customers in Southeast Asia.
USDEC Chairman Larry Hancock, a Texas dairy farmer, said, “As an industry we are united on caring for cow and comfort, to environmental stewardship, and to the quality of the great nutritious products we produce. We are united on exports and meeting the needs of local customers and consumers through the new U.S. CDE. This represents a smart, long-term investment of checkoff resources.”