UK dairy exports down 15% in Q3

Monday, 23 November 2020

by Kat Jack

Total dairy exports continue to fall behind year earlier levels as many countries continue to struggle with the coronavirus pandemic. The UK’s total dairy* exports for July-September (Q3) 2020 totalled 295k tonnes, down 54k tonnes (15%) on Q3 2019. All major product categories were down on the year in Q3. This brings year to date (Jan-Sep) trade to just over one million tonnes, down 12% on the same period a year previous.


A large share of the Q3 decline came from lower powders and concentrates exports compared to Q3 2019, down 21k tonnes overall. SMP exports to the Middle East and North Africa during the quarter were down by nearly 6k tonnes on the year, with 3.6k tonnes less going to Algeria. However it should be noted that large fluctuations are fairly usual due to the Algeria’s tendering and buying practices for SMP. On the WMP side, volumes shipped to the EU fell by 6.5k tonnes year on year.

The decline in cheese exports in Q3 was mainly driven by lower exports to the EU, down 5.3k tonnes (12%). There was growth in exports to some other regions, although these are much smaller export markets than the EU. Exports to Asia and Oceania were up 5% (138 tonnes), with higher exports to Hong Kong helping offset a drop in exports to China. Exports to North America grew 2% (54 tonnes), driven by an 8% increase in exports to the US.

Although we are now halfway through Q4 2020, trade data for the full quarter won’t be available until February. Given the continuing pandemic, it is likely that trade has continued to be disrupted. In particular, additional lockdowns imposed in several countries across Europe in recent months will have dampened already subdued foodservice demand for dairy products.



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

Image of staff member Katherine Jack

Katherine Jack

Analyst - Dairy

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