UK wholesale prices

Updated 25 August 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 30-33 (26 July - 22 August)

The summer holiday season continued to bring sluggishness to the markets. Some saw a steady month, but more reported firmness to the markets in August, particularly in the latter half of the reporting period. This has lifted prices slightly compared to last month.

Cream prices generally rose through the month. For some they eased back a little at the very end of the reporting period, but still ended higher than they started. A combination of returning hospitality demand and slightly lower than expected milk production have kept cream supplies tight, supporting the market. Trade was reportedly very UK focused, with less going to the EU, and there was a bit of disconnect between the EU and UK markets.

The rising cream market helped support butter prices. Less milk went into butter as returns were better for cream and spot milk, which tightened supply and raised prices in the latter part of the reporting period.

SMP prices were a bit more mixed, but overall saw a slight increase on the month. Markets started to come back to life towards the end of the reporting period as people returned from holiday.

An increased demand for curd, as well as the recent drop off in milk production, were given as the main drivers for a slight increase in mild cheddar prices. Overall the market continues to be fairly quiet and stable, but the slight upward pressure has pushed our average price up.

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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