What might the UK dairy industry look like in 2030?

Friday, 23 April 2021

By Chris Gooderham

Our latest three year milk forecast suggests GB will have an extra 210 m litres of milk by 2023/24 compared with 2020/21. If these prediction come true, what does the future of milk utilisation look like, and what might happen further down the line?

If we look at milk utilisation data for the UK, the historic trends we have seen give us an indication of how things could change in the future.

  • As overall milk production has increased, the proportion turned into bottles of milk has fallen, estimated at 44% in 2020. If those trends continue, by 2030 only around 38% of milk available for processing is expected to end up in a bottle.
  • Cheese, on the other hand, has risen over the last 10 years and further growth is expected. Cheddar, in particular, has seen rapid growth, with 21% of milk turned into Cheddar in 2020. With the UK still a net importer of Cheddar, by 2030, we would expect further growth in domestic production, and the share of milk to rise further, up to 24%.
  • Yogurt is another area where production has increased, rising 83% between 2015 and 2020. Similar to Cheddar, as we are net importers of yogurt, further domestic production growth in this area is expected.
  • Historically milk trade has increased as milk production in Northern Ireland has risen. There has been a slowdown in trade of fresh milk products since the turn of the year, but this is expected to pick up again out of necessity as we look ahead to 2030.

Making it happen

Despite the higher level of net exports, we will need more assets on the ground if we are to process all the milk we expect to be produced in the future. That investment looks like it should be focused on cheese and yogurt, although we certainly shouldn’t dismiss opportunities to find high value niche products, such as bespoke milk powders, should they deliver a profitable return.


Other products include milk powders, cream, butter and condensed milk

Image of staff member Chris Gooderham

Chris Gooderham

Head of Market Specialists - Dairy & Livestock

See full bio

Sign up for regular updates

You can subscribe to receive Dairy market news straight to your inbox. Simply fill in your contact details on our online form and select the information you wish to receive.

Visit the Keep in touch page

While AHDB seeks to ensure that the information contained on this webpage is accurate at the time of publication, no warranty is given in respect of the information and data provided. You are responsible for how you use the information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AHDB accepts no liability for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered (including that caused by negligence) directly or indirectly in relation to the information or data provided in this publication.

All intellectual property rights in the information and data on this webpage belong to or are licensed by AHDB. You are authorised to use such information for your internal business purposes only and you must not provide this information to any other third parties, including further publication of the information, or for commercial gain in any way whatsoever without the prior written permission of AHDB for each third party disclosure, publication or commercial arrangement. For more information, please see our Terms of Use and Privacy Notice or contact the Director of Corporate Affairs at info@ahdb.org.uk  © Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. All rights reserved.