UK dairy trade balance

Updated 08 March 2023

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.  


  • The UK returned to an overall trade surplus in dairy products (total dairy* tonnage) in 2022, following a deficit in 2021.
  • The trade surplus was 26k tonnes, with total ‘net exports’ up by 94k tonnes from the 68k tonne deficit recorded the previous year.
  • The largest improvements in trade were seen in yoghurt and cheese, where trade deficits were reduced. For yoghurt, imports and exports both recorded lower volumes year on year. For cheese, imports and export volumes both grew on the year, but exports increased relatively more, reducing the overall deficit.
  • Cream returned into a slight trade surplus, up 2K tonnes year on year.
  • The milk powders surplus declined for the third year in a row driven by lower exports of both SMP and WMP compared to last year.
  • Both butter and concentrated milk have a trade deficit, which increased in 2022, as year on year growth in imports exceeded exports.
  • In value terms, the overall trade deficit increased in 2022, reaching £1.13bn for all dairy products. This compares to a deficit of £1.04bn in 2021. While the total value of exports recorded growth, this was outweighed by the increased value of imports.
  • Cheese was the key contributor to movement in the value trade deficit, as the category trade deficit grew by £145m year on year.

*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.

Download dataset

UK dairy trade balance

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