UK milk production reached an 18-year high in December, at 1.15bn litres.

That was 83.8m litres more in November, and 111.5m litres more than in December 2012, according to provisional data from the Rural Payments Agency. It brings cumulative production to 10.15bn litres – 325.8m litres more than the same time last year, and the highest level since December 2006.

Butterfat, however, dropped sharply, to 4.11% for the month – well below the 4.18% recorded in December 2012. Cumulative butterfat was now at 4% – 0.06 points down on last year.

Average farmgate milk prices reached another record high in November, at 34.45p/litre, according to the latest DEFRA figures. That was 0.93p higher than October, and 4.42p more than November 2012.

Meanwhile, sales of pasteurised milk in the year to 8 December drove a 1.8% increase in the total liquid milk market, compared to the previous year. Total liquid sales reached 5.2bn litres, while the value of sales rose by 3.1%, to almost £3.3bn. Sales of filtered, sterilised, UHT and soya milk all declined, while pasteurised and “other” milk sales increased.