UK Wholesale Prices

Published 27 March 19

Market views taken for trade occurring between 1 to 27 March. Prices reported are indicative of values achieved over the reporting period for spot trade (excludes contracted prices).

The following prices represent an indicative average of UK wholesale markets. The “average” prices should be used to track trends while the commentary will contain prices seen through the month.

All prices quoted are in £/tonne.

Trade in wholesale markets was mostly quiet in March, resulting in steady-to-easing prices. Between Brexit and the upcoming flush there was a lot of uncertainty, meaning many were reluctant to buy. Those wanting to stock up pre-Brexit had already filled stores before March, and bigger buyers were reportedly preferring to wait rather than buy forward.

This sentiment has applied in particular to the butter, powder and mild cheddar markets. Skim milk powder and mild cheddar were fairly steady, but with some easing overall. Lacklustre buying interest had a bit more of an effect on butter prices, down 5% on last month.

Cream, in contrast, had a turbulent month. Prices fell during the first half of the month down to around £1,400/tonne, then late in the month rose to highs around £1,600/tonne. It is too soon to tell how long the highs will be sustained; some saw prices calm by the time of reporting while others were still up. Reports suggest the upwards shift was supported by a flurry of interest from the continent, possibly linked to the Brexit delay agreement. However, there was a lack of certainty around what the main drivers of price were this month. It may be that a somewhat thin market was giving sentiments extra sway. Overall, the lows outweighed the highs to leave cream down 6% on the month.

UK Wholesale Table
                          UK Wholesale Graph              

Notes: Prices have been compiled by talking to dairy product sellers, traders and buyers. Panel discussions on market conditions and prices covered trades agreed for the period 1 to 27 March. The published prices will not necessarily match the actual price received by a milk processor as this will depend, amongst other things, on the proportion of product that is sold on the spot market and the proportion sold under longer term contracts and at what price this is done.