UK dairy exports grow, imports ease - AHDB

Cheese exports rose 18% over last year
calendar icon 9 January 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

According to AHDB analyst Charlotte Forkes-Rees, UK dairy exports overall have seen an uplift between January and October. Exports totalled 1.03 million tonnes, up 3.5% (35,200 tonnes) when compared with the same period last year. 

There has remained mixed performance across the key product categories with cheese showing an 18% uplift on last year, and whey, milk and cream also showing positive growth (8% and 6% respectively). However, declines were seen for the other categories; powders and concentrates by 15%; butter by 10%; buttermilk and yoghurt by 24%.

The average price per tonne of product has increased substantially compared to the previous year. This was driven by tighter supplies and high production costs during the period (Jan-Oct), and reflects the higher global wholesale prices seen during the year compared to 2021. An uplift in prices was seen for all dairy products, ranging from 20% for cheese and curd products, to 58% for butter. Average powders and concentrates prices rose 32% in the year to date, which included a 48% increase in the SMP price. Overall, this mean that total export value increased by 37% to £1.54bn.

Latest figures show that the UK imported in the year to date (Jan-Oct) just over 1.0 million tonnes of dairy products. This is back 3% (32,600 tonnes) on the same period last year. In contrast, import value totalled £2.48bn, up 26% on Jan-Oct 2021, driven by higher commodity prices.

Within this reduction in volumes, year to date milk and cream imports decreased by 5%, and yoghurts and buttermilk reduced by 16%. There was an increase in imports of milk powders (12%), whey products (23%), cheese (2%) and butter (0.4%), however these uplifts were not enough to counteract the decreases seen in the other key categories.

Ireland continues to be the UK's largest supplier of dairy products, accounting overall for 370,800 tonnes (37%) of imports. This is slightly back on last year, however, while increases in shipments have been seen from Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

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