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This briefing paper sets out key statistics and current trends for the UK dairy industry:

  • The UK is the eleventh-largest milk producer in the world.
  • Milk accounted for 16.9% of total agricultural output in the UK in 2018 and was worth £4.5bn in market prices.
  • The total number of UK dairy cows has fallen from 2.6 million in 1996 to 1.9 million in 2018, a 27% reduction.
  • The UK produced 15.0 billion litres of milk in 2018, the highest annual figure since 1990.
  • In 2019, the UK recorded a trade surplus in volume terms for dairy for the first time since records began (1997).
  • In 2018, the UK had a negative trade balance in butter and cheese, but a positive trade balance in milk and cream.
  • Farm-gate milk prices for August 2019 were 28.6 pence per litre, up from a low of 21.5 ppl in August 2016. In February 2020, the farm-gate price was 28.6 ppl.
  • Between 1995 and today, doorstep delivery has declined from 45% to 3% of the retail milk market.
  • Supply chains were disrupted following the lockdown imposed to suppress the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020.

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