Dairy analysis: European dairy markets continue upward drive

European dairy markets continued a drive to the upside over the past few weeks with both butter and SMP [skim milk powder] posting big gains.

Demand has remained strong, while milk supplies have pulled back, according to multinational financial services firm, StoneX.

Outlining the latest market movements to Agriland, Dr. Peter Meehan, senior commodity analyst at StoneX, said:

“The European butter index was up a further 3% this week and has now gained 12% since the end of July.

European SMP meanwhile saw its tenth gain in a row this week, also up 12% in that period, climbing to its highest level since July 2014.”

Dr. Meehan continued: “Dairy derivative markets have also recorded big gains over the last few weeks with EEX butter futures for six months up 9.3% on average over the last two weeks, while SMP futures are up 4.9% over the same period.

“GDT’s recent run of gains however came to an end this week, as the overall index was unchanged on two weeks ago, with slight gains for SMP (+0.5%); butter (+0.4%) and AMF [anhydrous milk fat] (+0.4%) offset by a slight decline for WMP [whole milk powder] (-0.4%).”

Dairy demand

On the demand side, Dr. Meehan stated: “Up until recently, exceptionally strong Chinese demand was the driver behind the price strength, more than offsetting the strong supplies of milk coming on stream throughout the northern hemisphere’s season.

“There’s a sense in the market that Chinese demand is beginning to ease a little, however strong demand from other regions, such as Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, has taken up the slack for any potential decline in Chinese demand, for the moment at least.

This was reflected in the latest export data from New Zealand for August, which showed milk powder exports to China levelling off, or even dropping back into negative territory for the month.”

On the supply side, Dr. Meehan noted: “We’ve seen milk supplies pulling back sharply for Europe’s biggest milk producers with Germany, France and the UK all seeing their weekly collections drop off sharply over the last month or so.”

Milk collection data for August released over the last week meanwhile showed good y/y gains for Ireland (+5.4%); Italy (+2.9%); Poland (+0.9%); and Spain (+4.0%).

Continuing, Dr. Meehan said:

“Further afield, with New Zealand now very close to their peak milk production, collections for August were recently reported down 4.8% year-on-year, with cold and wet weather conditions cited as one of the reasons for the decline.

It’s worth noting though, that this is lapping over exceptionally strong milk collections in New Zealand in August 2020, which is exaggerating the y/y decline in this instance quite a bit.

“Another factor that might result in global milk production coming under further pressure in the coming months, is the sharp increase in input costs seen recently, with both energy and feed costs pushing higher, eating into farmgate margins,” Dr. Meehan concluded.