Tuesday, 19 November 2019
By Kat Jack
UK cheese and butter exports were both up on the previous year in September, and year to date figures also showed strong growth.
Growth in cheese exports has been led by mozzarella, with year-to-date volumes up 62% (7,200 tonnes) on the same period last year. Cheddar exports also grew, up 7% (4,700 tonnes) in the same time. The majority of growth came from exports to the EU. Cheese imports also increased, meaning the overall trade balance for the year so far was a marginally larger deficit than in the same period last year.
September butter exports were up a relatively low 1.5% on September 2018, but cumulatively Jan-Sep exports were up 14% on the previous year. Most of this growth came from bulk/block dairy butter, up 15% (4,300 tonnes) on Jan-Sep 2018. Exports of other milkfats (incl. AMF) also grew notably, with Jan-Sep 2019 exports up 18% (2,600) on the year. Year-to-date butter imports were down 6%, likely influenced by good domestic supply and domestic prices running below European prices. This has helped reduce the butter trade deficit compared to last year.
One trend seen over the last nine months has been an uplift in imports in the months preceding the two Brexit deadlines. As the vast majority of our cheese and butter imports come from the EU, the uplift probably reflects stock building in anticipation of potential trade disruption. With a third date now set for January, there is a chance we could see another uplift towards the end of the year – although with a shorter wait it would also be easier for buyers to hang on to stocks already bought.
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