Dairy trade balance in terms of fat and protein

Published 8 April 19

The UK has a dairy trade deficit, meaning more product is imported than exported. However, milk is made up of a number of constituents, so talking about an overall dairy trade deficit can be too simplistic.

The tables below show the net trade balance* for the UK in terms of fat and protein.

Fat and protein trade balances for the UK 

Source: AHDB, HMRC, Defra

The UK has a trade deficit in both butterfat and protein. In 2018, from a fat perspective the UK was 87% self-sufficient, whereas for protein the self-sufficiency level was 89%. In both cases, cheese imports are the biggest contributor to the lack of self-sufficiency. In fact, without the net imports of ‘Other cheeses’ the UK would be self-sufficient in protein, and only 2% short of fat.

As we move towards a potentially new trading landscape, how dairy products inter-relate will become even more important. Understanding how a change in trading conditions for one product will have potential knock-on implications for another, can help us determine how prices may move. After all, the value of each component will ultimately set the value of raw milk in the country.

* Net trade balance is exports minus imports, based on the typical butterfat and protein levels in products traded during the year.