Milk production remained at its lowest level for at least nine years in December, despite an increase as the industry moves towards its spring peak.

At just 1.036bn litres, the volume produced was 62.4m litres more than in November, but 61.7m litres below December 2011.

Cumulatively, production for the milk year so far was pegged at 9.82bn litres, according to provisional results from the RPA – almost 299m litres below the same time last year. Butterfat had eased slightly, from 4.2% in November to 4.18% in December, but was still high compared to previous years, putting cumulative butterfat at 4.06%.

Farmgate milk prices averaged 30.03p/litre in November, including retrospective bonuses – the highest level on recent record. That was 0.93p/litre higher than in October and 0.57p/litre above the previous year.

Although wholesale values dipped between Christmas and New Year, markets remained supported, said a report by DairyCo. Butter values eased by £50 to £2,800/t for December, with skimmed milk powder down by £100 to £2300/t. Cream slipped by £70, to £1,410, but cheddar values remained unchanged. “Concerns over available milk supply may help to shore up prices going forward.”

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