Lower EU milk supplies tightens availability

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

By Patty Clayton

Trends in wholesale pricing on EU markets have differed across products, with both SMP and WMP moving up through the year, cheese holding steady and butter declining. These trends appear to be closely linked to the ease in which product can be sourced, particularly for SMP and butter.

While there is no publically available data on stock levels for dairy products, looking at how available supplies[1] have changed year on year can provide some insight into whether supplies are plentiful or not.


Available supplies of cheese have remained relatively stable over the past year (12 months to Sep-19), as both production and trade patterns have been roughly on par with year earlier levels.

There has been a slight upturn in export volumes, but this has only had a small impact on total available volumes.


There has been some growth in availability over the twelve months to Sep-19, but this was relatively limited at 2%.

Most of the additional product is thought to be held as stocks.  After the volatility seen in butter prices between 2016 and 2018, there are reports of a significant shift away from dairy butter from food manufacturers, seriously impacting demand from this segment of the market.

The increasing availability will be putting downward pressure on prices.

Skim milk powder

Prices for SMP have been rising steadily through the year, following a five-year declining trend. 

Lower production, combined with a 28% upswing in exports, has kept availability tight within the EU, resulting in the steady rise in prices seen since mid-2018.

Whole milk powder

For WMP, less product was manufactured in the period, but availability increased as exports dropped by 16%.

Despite higher available supplies, prices have been pulled up by the rising SMP prices, as well as good demand levels.

[1] Available supplies measures the total volume of product available to the market (production + imports – exports), but cannot split out what has been sold (consumption) and what is held in stocks.

Patty Clayton

Lead Analyst - Dairy

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