Great Britain

Business update: Milk prices hold across the UK as new decade looms

Most dairies have announced they will hold milk prices until at least February, with liquid milk prices about 25-26ppl and cheese and manufacturing prices at 27-28ppl.

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Independent dairy consultant and Dairy Farmer columnist Ian Potter said these values were way below Defra’s published October average price of 29.35ppl, which he said was ‘misleading’.

October milk utilisation was at 1.193 billion litres, according to Defra, which was 0.6 per cent less than the amount used in October 2018, but 15.4 per cent more than in October 2009.

Liquid milk sales accounted for 42.3 per cent of the total, down from 52.8 per cent 10 years before.

Now half the total is used by cheesemakers and other manufacturers, up from 41.6 per cent a decade ago.

Exports in October 2019 were nearly 50 million litres more than October 2009, at 78.4m litres.

Annual deliveries in the year to the end of October was 15.009bn litres, which was 1.9 per cent higher than the year before, although a little off the September 2019 high.

The Global Dairy Trade Index was US$3,467 (£2,603)/tonne in the early December auction, which was 0.5 per cent down on November.


AHDB figures show EU product prices have continued to edge up in recent months, with the most significant gains in skimmed milk powders, which have increased by 40 per cent over the last year.

EU milk production in the 12 months to September 2019 was 0.2 per cent more than in the year before, at 117.1bn litres.

The average EU milk price was €33.51 (£27.95)/100kg in October, according to Dutch farmer organisation LTO, which was 3.6 per cent less than in October 2018.

Ireland has the cheapest milk in the LTO’s price table, which largely tracks milk destined for manufacturing, at less than €30 (£25)/100kg.

Saputo is the only UK dairy on the table, with an average price of €35.16 (£29.33)/100kg in October. UK milk production could tighten over coming months as the national herd shrinks.

The British milking herd was at 1.75m head at the beginning of October, according to BCMS figures, a drop of 2.4 per cent on the year.

The number of cows between four and six years was up 2.4 per cent but there was a 5.3 per cent drop in those from two to four years, with a 0.8 per cent fall in the number under two years.