UK dairy trade balance

Updated 17 March 2022

How do UK imports and exports compare for key dairy products? This information shows the net trade position for dairy products in both value and volume terms on an annual basis.  

Overview

  • The UK recorded a trade deficit in volume terms for total dairy* in 2021, following two years of trade surplus.
  • In 2021, the trade deficit amounted to 68k tonnes of product, a swing of 121k tones from the 53k tonne surplus in 2020.
  • The largest improvements in trade balance were seen in cheese and concentrated milk, where trade deficits reduced. For cheese, both imports and exports fell compared to 2020, but imports more so. For concentrated milk, imports fell while exports rose.
  • Cream went back into a slight trade deficit in 2021, having been in surplus in both 2019 and 2020.
  • The milk powders surplus declined on the year, driven by lower exports of both SMP and WMP compared to last year.
  • Yogurt saw its trade deficit worsen again in 2021, driven by lower exports and higher imports.
  • The butter trade deficit improved, as imports fell by more year on year than exports.
  • In value terms, the trade deficit was reduced in 2021, amounting to £1.04bn for all dairy products compared to £1.13bn deficit in 2020. While the total value of exports fell, the value of imports fell more notably, improving the net trade position for 2021.
  • Cheese was the key contributor to the improvement in the value trade deficit, as the category trade deficit shrunk considerably. As well as the value of imports falling further than export value, average export prices (in £/tonne) rose by more than import prices, giving extra swing to the value (£) trade balance.

*HS codes 0401-0406. Includes shipments of unprocessed milk/raw milk crossing the border for processing.


Additional information

The trade balance is calculated as exports minus imports.

Total dairy (All dairy) here refers to HS codes 0401-0406 which includes shipments of unprocessed milk/raw milk crossing the border for processing.  

The liquid milk category includes shipments of unprocessed milk/raw milk crossing the border for processing.  

Butter here refers to the total 0405 category which includes other fats and oil derived from milk. 

For descriptions of the product categories please see the notes section of the downloadable spreadsheet.

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UK dairy trade balance

UK fat and protein trade balance

Updated 26 May 2020

The UK dairy trade balance differs by product, each of which use a different amount of the fats and proteins available from milk production. The tables below show the trade balance for the UK in terms of fat and protein on an annual basis. 

Overview

  • Much of the value in a dairy product comes from its constituents, and so looking at our trade balance in terms of fat and protein can provide valuable insight on demand for milk solids.
  • In 2020, both the fat and protein trade deficits grew, with the fat deficit up 8% on 2019 and the protein deficit up 2%.
  • However, both these deficits are still considerably smaller than those seen in 2016-2018.  
  • For more detail see our article on the 2020 figures.

Additional information

The net trade balance is exports minus imports, based on the typical butterfat and protein levels in products traded in the year.

Download dataset

UK dairy trade balance

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