UK Wholesale Prices

Published 26 May 16

Market views taken for trade occurring between 1 to 26 May. Prices reported are indicative of values achieved over the concluding month for spot trade (excludes contracted prices).

Prices in dairy wholesale markets moved up for all reported dairy products in May, contrary to seasonal patterns. Typically prices weaken in the spring as milk deliveries increase. However, lower than anticipated milk production this year seem to have triggered a demand response, with buyers coming back to the market to secure supplies. It is too early to say if this indicates the market has turned or is simply a short term blip.

Cream prices were reportedly driven up by a shortage on the continent, pushing prices up week on week to average £860/tonne in May. Prices rose from lows of £800/tonne at the start of the month to reach prices in excess of £900/tonne by the last week.

Butter prices followed cream prices, and have moved up by around £175/tonne through the month, bringing the average to £2,025/tonne in May. Strong demand in the EU is reported to be the key factor pulling up prices, arising from lower milk volumes leading to reduced production. Although PSA stocks are high, sellers are reported to be holding firm on price perhaps suggesting there is relatively little unsold stock.

The spot value for SMP also increased in May, although only at the bottom end of the range. The general sentiment is manufacturers would prefer to trade than intervene product and deals have been done at a small premium above intervention. Currency movements put the intervention equivalent (before transport) at around £1,300/tonne for the first half of May but put pressure on prices at the end of the month, pulling the overall average for the month up.

Spot prices for mild Cheddar rose through May, also driven by concerns over availability. Reports of a lower than expected peak in milk production, and milk being diverted away from cheese production put sellers in a strong position. The loss of a large quantity of cheese from the accident in the transport warehouse also impacted the market. The expectation that supplies were tighter than expected re-invigorated demand and resulted in spot market prices rising week on week. Prices were reported to have lifted by £50-£200/tonne through the month depending on the specification.


Price per tonne



% diff.


% diff. 15-16

Bulk Cream


















Mild Cheddar prices are available upon request (see below for more information)

Source: AHDB Dairy  


AHDB has made the decision to suspend publication of wholesale mild Cheddar prices as of January 2016 due to the lack of spot trade and the inability to quote a price representative of completed spot deals.

The lack of trade has highlighted limitations of the spot price and increased the risk of misperceptions of what the price represents. In Cheddar markets, where a large proportion of sales will be on contract, spot prices can vary significantly from contracted prices – especially when stock levels are out of kilter with demand. More information available.

AHDB Dairy will continue to monitor Cheddar markets and gather intelligence from the trade on activity in this market. However, to avoid misunderstanding we have taken the decision to share price information only after the opportunity to discuss it on a one-to-one basis.

We will continue to work with the industry to improve the reporting of wholesale Cheddar prices, with the aim of beginning to publish the prices again in the future. Anyone who is interested in receiving the average spot price for mild Cheddar, or in helping AHDB improve the price reporting process should email with their contact details.


 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 26 May. 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.