Some positive signs among low Q3 dairy exports

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

By Kat Jack

UK dairy trade[1] continues to be down on the year overall, with quarter 3 (July-September) exports 10% lower year on year, while imports were down 7%. Subsequently, overall year to date figures remain down on 2020.

table of latest UK dairy trade figures

Trade in most of the key product categories was down on the year for Q3, with the exception of powders and butter. This was largely helped by both products seeing a drop in exports in Q3 2020, making the comparison more favourable. Still, with positive growth hard to come by this year, these small wins are worth noting.

Butter[2] exports totalled 15.3k tonnes in Q3 2021, up 34% on Q3 2020. The vast majority of this growth came from exports to the EU, which were up 42% yoy to 13.0k tonnes. In Q3 2020, the EU’s demand for imported dairy fell as a result of the pandemic, with particularly reduced demand from the food service sector. In 2021, this demand has been returning, and low growth in EU milk supplies will have increased import demand. 

  graph showing quarterly UK butter exports

Exports in the milk powders and concentrates category[3] totalled 34.1k tonnes in Q3 2021, up 16% on Q3 2020. SMP exports were up 13% at 19.1k tonnes, and WMP exports up 17% at 9.2k tonnes. Powder exports can be highly variable, as key importers often purchase via tender or shop around for the best prices. For example, the UK exported 2.9k tonnes of SMP to Algeria in Q3 2021, compared to only 0.1k tonnes in Q3 2020 – which is a fairly common fluctuation for Algeria. Additionally, the UK exported 3.4k tonnes of WMP to China in Q3, more than we shipped to them in the whole of 2020. There has also been an increase in exports of concentrated milk and cream this year.

  graph showing quarterly UK milk powder export


[1] Trade codes 0401-0406 inclusive. Includes raw milk crossing the Irish border for processing.

[2] Trade code 0405, "Butter And Other Fats And Oils Derived From Milk"

[3] Trade code 0402, "Milk And Cream, Concentrated Or Containing Added Sweetening"

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Katherine Jack

Senior Analyst - Dairy

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