Is EU milk production starting to slow down?

Published 27 April 16

EU milk production in February 2016 is provisionally put at 11,912m litres, some 10% higher than February last year. However, detailed analysis does show signs that EU production is starting to slowdown.

The European Commission has still not released full EU28 milk production figures for February. As is often the case, the Spanish production figures are not yet available. However, with results available for the other main EU milk producing countries, an estimate can be made.

February 2016 was a leap year. Removing the extra day from the numbers shows a more sensible 5.6% growth. This is in line with the growth rate recorded in December and January. However, from December 2014 to March 2015 EU milk production did not increase as quickly as normal*. This was when a number of countries were holding back production due to quota restrictions. Applying a more normal* line to last year’s production from November onwards (as below), shows just how much milk was held back last year. 

EU milk production

Source: Eurostat, AHDB

Compared with the normalised line, EU production was running around 5% higher than the previous year in October and November. This growth rate reduced to around 3% in January and February, suggesting that there has been a slowdown. The true year-on-year picture won’t be seen until the April production figures are available. Unfortunately, at current turnaround time from the EU Commission, this won’t be until the end of June.

* Normal production based on average trend seen over the previous 3 years