Covid-related port congestion and supply chain delays helped drive China's imports of dairy products down sharply in March, the co-op said in a global market update.
It said China's import volumes decreased by 29.1 per cent, or 115,101 tonnes in March compared to March 2021.
Compared to record import volumes in March last year, lower volumes were observed across most products, it said.
Whey imports decreased sharply as lower quality feed for hog herds is being used as a cheaper alternative.
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Fluid milk products, whole milk powder and skim milk powder imports also decreased.
However, imports for the 12 months to March were up 5.3 per cent or 199,755 tonnes, driven by whole milk powder, fluid milk products and skim milk powder, partially offset by decreases in whey and infant formula.
Fonterra said its New Zealand milk collections for the season-to-date were 1,296.4 million kg of milk solids, down 3.7 per cent on the prior season.
Total New Zealand dairy exports were flat in February compared to the same period the year prior.
Exports for the 12 months to February were up by 2.1 per cent, or 72,964 tonnes, compared to the same period the year prior.
This was primarily driven by increases in fluid milk product, whole milk powder, and cheese but partially offset by declines in AMF and infant formula, the co-op said.