UK wholesale prices

Updated 26 July 2021

Indicative average prices for butter, skimmed milk powder (SMP) and mild Cheddar cheese on UK wholesale markets. Bulk cream prices are weighted average prices on agreed trades within the reporting period.

Note there has been a change in the methodology for determining the bulk cream price from January 2021.

Information on prices and market conditions is gathered through a monthly phone survey of dairy product sellers, traders and buyers. Panel discussions cover prices on spot trades agreed within the reporting period and delivered within a maximum of 2 weeks for bulk cream and 6 weeks for butter, SMP or cheese. 

For butter, skimmed milk powder (SMP) and mild Cheddar, prices are indicative of values achieved for spot trades and exclude contracted prices or forward sales.

For bulk cream, a weighted average price will now be reported. This is based on submissions of an average price for agreed spot trades made within the reporting period along with total volumes traded. Data is entered by panel members via the AHDB online wholesale price portal.

Overview

Weeks 25-29 (21 June - 19 July)

The holiday season, such that it is, has kept wholesale markets relatively quiet this period. However, further delays and added uncertainty over the ending of restrictions has weakened demand generally, impacting on demand from food manufacturers and the out-of-home market. The one exception is cream, where trading demand has been boosted by an appetite for ice cream, while supplies have been limited. 

Cream prices trended up through the five-week reporting period, as a result of supplies limited by seasonally declining milk production and demand rising thanks to weather-induced requirement for fresh cream and ice cream. After starting the month in the £1,480-£1,500/tonne range, prices moved up to the mid £1,500s into the middle of July, with some quotes as high as £1,600/tonne as hot weather boosted demand. However, these prices were limited to relatively small volumes. When cream prices moved above the butter equivalent, demand from churns dropped off and prices settled lower in the last week of the reporting period. 

Butter prices fell back on lower demand. Very little trade was reported, and any deals agreed saw lower pricing. Stocks are generally viewed as being ample, and both holidays and delays in the lifting of restrictions has kept demand muted. 

SMP prices also dropped, on average, in the period on the back of low demand. Prices have generally followed trends set on the GDT, and markets have remained quiet.   

Little change has been reported for mild Cheddar markets, keeping the average price unchanged for July.  While there has been a slight reduction in retail sales, this has not unbalanced the market as foodservice demand has compensated. Curd prices have remained sufficiently high to limit any build-up of stocks, and most of the spring cheese make will have been earmarked for sales or maturation, keeping availability in line with demand.

Additional information

Prices for bulk cream were not weighted by traded volumes prior to January 2021. 

The published prices will not necessarily match the overall actual price achieved by a milk processor as this will depend, amongst other things, on the proportion of product that is sold on the spot market and the proportion sold under longer term contracts and at what price this is done. The “average” prices should be used to track trends while the commentary will contain prices seen through the month.

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UK wholesale prices

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