EU Member States offered over 40,000t of skimmed milk powder to intervention last year latest figures from the Milk Market Observatory show.

The final totals for 2015 come as this week Ornua said that while recent Irish volumes have been modest, it does expect this to rise unless there is increased market activity.

EU production of SMP was up 8.5% from January to November 2015, compared to the same time in 2014.

Meanwhile, SMP exports from Europe to China in 2015 were down 21%, figures from the EU show.

Back in early July 2015, Lithuania became the first country to use public intervention following the latest downturn in dairy prices.

Over the next few months, it was joined by a host of EU Member States including Ireland in using the instrument.

The first week of September saw the use of the measure peak with over 3,000t of skimmed milk powder (SMP) sold into intervention in that week.

intervention volumes

Through late September and October, the use of pubic intervention by Member States had been declining significantly cumulating in no product being sold under the measure by early November.

The fall in the use of intervention at the time coincided with somewhat of a pick up in dairy markets.

However, more recently the use of public intervention for skimmed milk powder by Member States has ramped up again.

The second week of this month (January 2016) saw the highest amount of product offered to public intervention in the last 12 months (6700t). Offer quantities were also high in the latter weeks of December 2015 with in excess of 3000t a week also offered.

The current intervention prices include €221.75/100kg for butter and €169.8/100kg for SMP these prices equate to 21c/L in terms of Irish milk prices.

Under the intervention scheme, operators in the dairy sector can sell butter and SMP to public authorities at the above mentioned fixed prices up to a limit of 50,000t for butter and 109,000t for SMP from March to September each year.

Incase those ceilings are met, purchases continue through a tender system.

Member State authorities notify to the Commission on a weekly basis the quantities for which they have received offers for sale.