Impact of reduced milk volumes on UK fat balance

Published 23 November 16

At the start of November, AHDB published information on the fat balance in the UK. Updated information is now available to extend the analysis into the first half of 2016/17.

April to September 2016 saw UK milk production 6.5% down on the same period last year. Although milk production has been down, the level of butterfat has actually been up. Apr-Sep 2016 UK butterfat levels averaged 4.02%, compared with 3.95% Apr-Sep last year. The increase is not enough to offset the drop in milk volumes, and means overall butterfat production from UK farms was around 285k tonnes, 5% down on last year.

In terms of utilisation over the same period, the quantity of butterfat ending up in liquid bottled milk has remained relatively stable. There has been a slight reduction in fat used in cheese and other products. However, fat used to make cream has seen the biggest drop, down 9k tonnes (14%) compared with last year. The quantity of fat ending up in butter manufacturing has actually increased by 2k tonnes (3%), which is likely a reflection of the fact that spot butter prices were outperforming spot cream prices from April to September. This situation has since reversed, with cream now outperforming butter.

Butterfat chart 2 

                                            Sources: Defra, AHDB