EU Member States have agreed on not selling skimmed milk powder (SMP) out of public intervention this week.

This decision was taken on the back of a recommendation from the European Commission.

Offers were received for a total of 11,914t, but the price range was too far from the prevailing market price and from the minimum selling price set at the previous tender.

Brussels has confirmed that 21,962t are available for the next tender on January 17.

The tender to put on sale the skimmed milk powder that entered into public intervention before November 1, 2015 (some 22,000t) started on November 25.

The quantities offered for sale represent roughly 6% of the total 354,000t, which went into public storage in 2015 and 2016.

In total, bids offering different prices were received under this second tender for 11,914t. Offered prices ranged from €165.1/100 kg to €196.1/100 kg. The minimum price set at the previous tender was €215.1/100kg.

EU Commission sources point out that the move to release these first volumes reflects the encouraging signs of recovery being seen on the European milk market.

Following a steady slow down, no more quantities of skimmed milk powder have been put into public intervention since September 2016, even though this market measure remains open.

Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMS) President John Comer has welcomed the decision by the EU Commission not to offload SMP on to commercial markets that would hinder the current ‘tentative recovery’ now being experienced by the dairy sector.

"But Brussels must continue to act in this vein.

“World dairy markets are in a state of delicate balance at the present time. And it would take very little for international buyers to be given the wrong signals from a commodity price perspective.”