The January EU weighted average milk price stood at €33.38/100kg (34.41c/L), up €0.33/100kg (1.0%) on the previous month, according to AHDB Dairy.

Compared with the previous year, the weighted average EU price for January was up €3.64/100kg (12.2%).

Looking at the top five milk-producing countries (Germany, France, UK, the Netherlands and Poland) the average January milk price was €32.59/100kg, AHDB Dairy said.

This was a €0.35/100kg (1.1%) increase compared with the previous month, it added.

From a production perspective, last December saw 11.75m litres of milk delivered to dairies in the EU-28, a decrease of 351m litres (2.9%) on December 2015.

However, cumulative figures from January to December 2016 were up 0.4%, compared with the same period in 2015.

Irish milk output fell by 2.2% in December 2016, compared with the same month in 2015.

European SMP Markets

Meanwhile, stockpiles are weighing heavily on European SMP markets, particularly with the spring production peak approaching.

Applications for Private Storage Aid (PSA) for SMP recently reached their highest level since the scheme opened in 2014, but the support measure closed a week later on February 28.

This was the closing date given by the European Commission, after a series of extensions to the scheme.

In addition, the latest tender for the sale of SMP from intervention ended on February 21, with no product sold.

The highest price offered was €1,804/t, around €125/t below the market value for the week, and the European Commission rejected all offers.

This was the fifth tender, with just 40t having been sold so far, leaving 350,000t still in intervention.

The volumes and prices offered for intervention stock have reduced since the tendering process began at the end of last year, suggesting buyer interest has waned.

Buyers may be waiting to see how much milk is produced over the flush and how this affects pricing, before committing to deals.