UK dairy import volumes have increased 11% year-on-year, indicating volumes have returned to 2020 levels as foodservice markets recover and adapt to new Brexit trade deals.

According to a report by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the first half of 2022 saw the UK import a total of 735,600 tonnes of dairy products, a marked increase on 2021 levels.

AHDB explained that volumes of imported products were significantly lower in 2021 due to the impact of Brexit as well as continued disruption from the pandemic.

Import volumes increased year-on-year in all product categories except ‘yoghurt and buttermilk’ and ‘cream’ which declined by 5% and 8% respectively. Cheese and curd continue to be the largest import category, accounting for 32% of UK dairy imports at 235,600 tonnes.

AHDB said that higher foodservice demand, along with tight domestic supplies, will be behind the overall increase in volumes.

Significant value increases

AHDB added: “All product categories have seen significant increases in value year-on-year in light of rising prices. Butter has seen the largest rise in unit price year-on-year, up 33% from 2021. Whilst yoghurt and buttermilk saw the smallest rise in unit price, it was still a significant 18%. Price increases have been inevitable over the past 12 months, as both milk and product supplies remain in short supply.”

The total value of dairy imports stands at £1.7 billion for the year to date, an increase of 30% compared to the same period last year. Cheese and curd make up the largest share of this, with 59% of the total import value. The yoghurt and buttermilk category was second largest, accounting for 16% of the total value.