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Did coronavirus impact UK dairy trade?

17 September 2020

AHDB

The coronavirus pandemic has inevitably had an impact on global trade, with IHS Markit dubbing April-June 2020 “the worst quarter in trade on record”.

On a global level, it notes shipments to and from multiple key trading nations were down significantly on the year. But how did UK dairy trade perform, questions Katherine Jack, AHDB dairy analyst

Cheeses and powders drive lower dairy imports

UK imports of dairy products (excluding liquid milk and cream) totalled 616.5k tonnes in Jan-Jul 2020, down 8% on 2019 and down 7% on the 3-year average (2017-2019). There has been some uplift in recent months, with June imports up on the year and July in line with a year previous. This is likely tied to the return of some foodservice demand as restrictions started to ease.

The reduced imports so far this year (Jan–Jul) were driven by cheeses and powders, down 3% and 6% on the year respectively. Other product categories such as butter, whey products and fermented dairy products (e.g. yoghurts) were up on 2019.

UK dairy product exports up on 3-year average

Exports of UK dairy products (excluding liquid milk and cream) totalled 330.8k tonnes for Jan-Jul 2020, down 8% on the same period in 2019, but up 6% on the 3-year average (2017-2019).

The year-on-year losses came from predominantly from lower exports of cheeses and fermented dairy products. There was also a small drop in exports of whey products, while butter exports rose and exports of powders and concentrates held steady.

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