Low yields push down milk production forecast

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

By Kat Jack

GB milk production is now predicted to total 12.4bn litres for the 2021/22 season, down 1.2% on 2020/21, based on our December ’21 forecast update. This is also down from our September forecast, when we predicted a 0.2% decline year-on-year.

table showing the December 2021 GB milk production forecast

The reduction in the forecast comes from two key elements:

  1. Less milk actually delivered in the September to November period than we’d previously predicted
  2. Lower average milk yields, and an expectation that yields will remain low through until the spring

Last quarter, we predicted that production would rise slowly from the trough and total 2,995m litres for September-November, down 29m litres on the previous year. Instead, production stayed relatively flat and came in 30m litres below our prediction for those three months.

  graph showing the December 2021 GB milk production forecast

This lower production is coming from lower than expected yields, held back by rising costs. At this point, even if recent milk price increases cover these rising costs, yields are unlikely to improve until calving time comes around. Therefore, we have lowered our yield expectations accordingly.

The size of the dairy herd at October did come in at very slightly higher (0.1%) than we had previously projected, but still continued to follow the long-term pattern of decline. We expect this to continue going forwards.

Looking ahead to the next season, our projections currently show production running just slightly behind 2021 through the spring. The expectation is then for higher production through the summer and autumn, running closer to 2020 than 2021. However, there remains a great deal of uncertainty in the forecast for next season during this period of high inflation, and we will continually review the assumptions in our future quarterly forecasts.


Learn more about the forecast on our Milk Forecasting Forum page

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Katherine Jack

Senior Analyst - Dairy

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