Butterfat balance in the UK

Published 2 November 16

AHDB estimates that, in 2015/16, the UK produced around 618k tonnes of butterfat on farm. After taking into consideration the small volume of raw milk that was traded in and out of the UK (predominantly over the Irish border), just under 600k tonnes of butterfat entered UK manufacturing processes. 

 Butterfat map

Source: AHDB/Defra

By combining the quantity of product manufactured with an estimate of the percentage fat in the end product, AHDB can estimate where this butterfat ends up. 

Butterfat graph

Source: AHDB/Defra

The biggest user of fat in the UK is cheese, using more than a quarter of the butterfat available. Cream, liquid milk and butter all use approximately 20% of the butterfat, with the remaining 12% taken into other products such as yoghurt, condensed milk and milk powder.

Butterfat availability increased every year from 2011/12 through to 2015/16. This was initially due to an increase in the butterfat percentage of the raw milk, and then was driven by rising milk volumes. Each year, the additional fat was utilised fairly evenly between additional butter, cream and cheese. A reduction is expected in 2016/17 due to the significant fall in milk volumes, although this is being partly offset by rising butterfat percentages.