UK butter trade

Updated 30 April 2020

For the latest trade data please visit our new dairy trade dashboard.

Data on UK trade in butter is provided here to give an overview of recent activity. Monthly import and export volumes are reported, split by product group and trading regions. 

Overview: February 2020

  • Both imports and exports were down on the year, despite there being an extra day in February this year.
  • There was a 600 tonne trade deficit in butter in the two months to February. This is a reversal from the 184 tonne surplus for the same period in 2019.
  • In the first two months of the year, imports of butter were 20% lower than a year prior at 11,288 tonnes.
  • Total volumes exported during January and February were down 26% on the same period in 2019 at 10,688 tonnes.
  • Last year we saw an uplift in trade in advance of the March 2019 Brexit deadline that we wouldn’t expect to be repeated in 2020. Although the UK left the EU at the end of January 2020, the transition period means trading conditions have not materially changed.
  • This year, Coronavirus is expected to have some impact on trade, particularly through disrupted shipping and reduced global demand. However, during January and February, the outbreak was in its early stages in Europe, with the Italian lockdown not starting until 23 February.


  • The UK imported 5,698 tonnes of butter in February, down 20% on February 2019.
  • Dairy butter (bulk and block) remains the primary form of imported butter, making up 79% of total import volumes coming into the UK in February, despite volumes being 25% lower than February 2019.
  • Imports of dairy spreads* were down 32% on the year, while imports of ‘other milkfats’ were up 9% and imports of ‘other butter’ doubled to 453 tonnes.
  • Year-to-date imports of all butter (Jan-Feb) were 20% lower than last year, mostly due to a 25% drop in imports of bulk/block butter.


  • Exports of butter from the UK dropped to 4,572 tonnes in February, down 30% on February 2019.
  • The fall was mainly from shipments of dairy butter (bulk or blocks), which were 31% down on a year ago at 2,801 tonnes. February exports of ‘other butter’ and ‘other milkfats’ were also down on the year.
  • Dairy spreads bucked the trend and saw a year-on-year increase in February, up 16% to 94 tonnes.
  • There was an increase in exports to non-EU destinations, with volumes nearly tripling on the year to 913 tonnes. However, this was down 12% on January 2020.
  • Year to date exports of all butter (Jan-Feb) were 26% lower than year earlier levels, at 10,688 tonnes. All product categories have seen a decline in export volumes over this period.

Additional information

*The dairy spreads trade category does not include Lurpak imports, which are traded under a non-dairy code

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UK butter trade