Senior Advisor for Public Policy Asia Advisors Dennis Erpelding presented at the U.S. Dairy Export Council forum in Bangkok Thailand on September 18, 2023. Presentation highlights include:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region is a dynamic area with population growth, economic opportunity, agriculture development, and improving consumer diets. The region includes developing economies with a population expected to exceed 700 million. Food security, innovation, and sourcing are key to the future of ASEAN. Now is an excellent time for the U.S. dairy sector to collaborate with the local dairy sector to meet current needs, the evolving market segments, and growth in demand for food animal sourced nutrition.

ASEAN seeks to become the ‘epicentrum for growth’ and in 2021 ASEAN accounted for 21.7 percent of global exports and 20.9 percent of global imports. ASEAN’s geographical location positions it centrally as one considers trade flows, markets, and regional politics. Diversification of global supply chains and markets is resulting in more investment in the region, specifically as global players look to de-risk from one production base to multiple bases in Asia.

During the COVID-19 era, as reported by FAO this year, severe and moderate food insecurity increased with undernourished totaling 768 million globally. 122 million more people faced hunger in 2022 than in 2019. In broader Asia, 425 million are undernourished. The post COVID-19 era provides an opportunity to recalibrate our global food security approach. Solutions are available with innovation and trade.

The U.S. has been a historical leader in innovation with farm output growing at an annual rate of 1.42 percent from 1948 through 2019. The innovation driving this increased output has been biological, chemical, mechanical, and organizational changes in technology and farm practices. U.S. milk production has increased 13 percent over the past 10 years. The U.S. dairy sector went from a domestic focus, a market opportunity with 330 million people, to a global focus, a market opportunity with eight billion consumers. Dairy policy changed from production management to risk management. In around 25 years, the U.S. went from exporting 3.5 percent of production to exporting 15 percent of production. This has been good for dairy farmers, the dairy sector, and consumers globally. The U.S. is now a very reliable global supplier of sustainable nutritious dairy products for which ASEAN customers and consumers can be beneficiaries.