World wholesale prices

Updated 16 January

This price series looks at the average wholesale prices of certain dairy products from the EU, Oceania and the US. It aims to provide an overview of global wholesale price movements which can affect prices closer to home.

Overview

The diverging trends for fats and protein prices continued in December. In general, butter prices dropped while powder prices moved up. The exception was in Oceania where milk powder prices dropped.

EU

EU wholesale markets were positive during December, mainly due to strong demand. Production had moved past its seasonal low, reducing any concerns over the availability of milk production in the run up to year end and limiting price hikes.

  • EU butter has seen good demand with reports that manufacturers are releasing stocks to meet short term requirements. Good cream availability however has meant there is little pressure on overall supplies.
  • SMP prices increased in December on the back of tight supplies. With little additional milk supply, SMP production remains limited to filling contracted orders.
  • WMP markets face a similar situation, with tight supplies supporting prices. However, with uncompetitive prices on global markets, export interest is low.

Oceania

Total milk production in Oceania is down as Australia is still suffering the effects of prolonged drought, further exacerbated by the current wildfires. Production in New Zealand remains strong although fairly flat year-on-year. Prices for powders and butter were lower in December, partly due to production being at its seasonal high point.

  • Butter production is at its seasonal high in Oceania. Although demand was steady in Australia, there is good supply. Current production is going into stores to cover the lower production months.
  • The price of SMP reduced during December, with reports suggesting this was due to increased stock availability. Trading activity dropped off towards the end of the month, and buyers were reported to be well covered for Q1 2020, contributing to a drop off in demand.
  • Prices for WMP dropped mid-month after holding steady earlier in the month. The size of the price drop took some by surprise after recent firmness in the markets, but may be a response to higher production and the short-term seasonal drop off in demand.
  • Whilst Cheddar production was steady in December, year to date production is significantly below last year. With good demand for commodity cheese, prices have been rising. Added to this, the Oceania price is lower than the US making it a more attractive option for exports.

US

Milk was readily available in the US in December, supporting active production of butter and cheddar. Trading activity dropped off somewhat after the holiday season.

  • With plenty of cream available, butter production remained active in December, boosting stocks. With holiday demand covered, trading activity dropped off through the month, lowering prices.
  • Demand for WMP is strong from confectioners and supplies were reported as tight. Prices moved up in response.
  • The US cheddar price continued its’ downwards trend after reaching historic peaks in the autumn. Production and demand are steady and milk is readily available.

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World wholesale prices