UK dairy trade balance

Updated 11 March 2021

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 surplus in volume terms for total dairy* for a second consecutive year in 2020, although this surplus has fallen compared to 2019.
  • In 2020, the trade surplus amounted to 33k tonnes of product, 59k tonnes lower than 2019.
  • The largest improvements in trade balance were seen in buttermilk and cheese, which both saw a notable drop in imports.
  • The cream surplus grew marginally in 2020, having shifted from a trade deficit in 2019, supported by lower import volumes.
  • The milk powders surplus declined on the year, with lower exports of both SMP and WMP compared to last year.
  • Yoghurt saw its trade deficit worsen in 2020, driven by lower exports and higher imports.
  • The butter trade deficit increased, with exports dropping back notably on the year.
  • In value terms, there was a further increase in the trade deficit, amounting to £1.16bn for all dairy products. While the total value of imports fell, the value of exports fell more notably, worsening the net trade position for 2020.
  • Yoghurt was a key contributor to the change in the value trade deficit. This is partly because we exported less, but also because the value and volume of yoghurt imports greatly increased. While the value of UK yoghurt exports increased, this was not enough to outweigh the increases in imports seen. 

*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.  

Total dairy imports and exports (All dairy) includes dairy products which are not reported here. The total will therefore differ from from the sum of the reported categories.

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 9 July 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

  • In 2019, from a fat perspective the UK was 89% self-sufficient, whereas for protein the self-sufficiency level was 93%.
  • In both cases, cheese imports are the biggest contributor to the lack of self-sufficiency. In fact, without the net imports of ‘Other cheeses’, the UK would be self-sufficient in protein and fat.
  • The trade deficit in portein shrank considerably between 2018 and 2019, largely driven by an uplift in SMP and skim concentrate exports. Read more in our article here
  • As we move towards a potentially new trading landscape, how dairy products inter-relate will become even more important. Understanding how a change in trading conditions for one product will have potential knock-on implications for another, can help us determine how prices may move. After all, the value of each component will ultimately set the value of raw milk in the country.

Additional information

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

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UK dairy trade balance
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