Milking clusters in a dairy parlour© Tim Scrivener

The world’s oldest cheddar cheesemaker, Barber’s has dropped its milk price by 1.25p/litre from 1 March 2018.

The cut takes the price paid to the company’s 150 producers below 30p/litre for the first time since September 2017 to 29.91p/litre for manufacturing litres with constituent contents of 4.2% butterfat, 3.4% protein.

Processors across the board have announced decreases in UK farmgate milk prices (see ‘National milk prices on downward trajectory’, below) as dairy commodities markets continue to slump.

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January saw universal falls for average UK dairy commodity prices, with bulk cream dropping 14% to £1,550/t, butter sliding 9% to £3,660/t compared with December 2017 according to AHDB Dairy.

Skim milk powder hit its lowest average price since the levy board began recording prices in July 2000, down 6% on the month to £1,160/t.

Cheddar markets down

Crucially for Barber’s, average mild cheddar wholesale prices fell 5% on the month to £2,850/t, 7% behind the same month in 2017.

A spokesman for Barber’s said the drop was partly a result of competitive pressures which had intensified as almost all UK processors have applied at least one, and in some cases two price reductions during this period.

They added: “We hope that the critical balance of milk supply v demand stabilises across the coming weeks, as this will be the best remedy to reverse the current downward pressure across all dairy markets.”

National milk prices on downward trajectory

Manufacturing contracts (4.2% butterfat, 3.4% protein)

  • Dairycrest Davidstow -0.75p to 30.25p/litre from 1 March
  • Glanbia Cheese -1p to 28.5p/litre from 1 March
  • Arla Foods Amba -1.73p to 29.27p/litre from 1 February
  • Wensleydale Creamery -1.25p to 29.95p/litre from 1 February

Liquid contracts (4% butterfat, 3.3% protein)

  • Muller Direct -1p to 28p/litre from 1 March
  • Freshways -0.769p to 28.69p/litre from 1 February

Continental comparison

  • Friesland Campina -1.675p/litre to 30.454 from 1 February

All prices are producers averages from Milkprices.com