According to AHDB figures, UK dairy exports declined 10% to 1.32 million tonnes in 2020 as pressure was placed on the supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The year-over-year decline was seen across all major product categories.
Of these, processed powders and concentrates fell 29,000 tons (17%), recording the steepest decline.
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Cheese exports also fell by 15,000 tons in 2020, down 7% over the past 12 months to 193,000 tons.
AHDB dairy analyst Kat Jack put pressure on exports as a result of the trade collapse, which totaled 1.29 million tons, down 6% year-on-year.
Cheese and curd imports saw the largest decline at 41,000 tons, down 8% compared to the relatively high imports in 2019.
Jack criticized trade disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, which struck both imports and exports in the UK, and declines caused by falling global demand.
UK-US dairy trade
According to HMRC data, the US is the UK’s second-largest dairy export market after the EU. U.S. dairy imports have risen markedly due to a weak dollar against the UK and the euro.
Only a small amount of dairy, mostly 562 tons of whey protein, was imported, but that’s an almost eight-fold increase over the previous year.
For exports, UK dairy volume reflects the overall figure as sales to the United States declined year-on-year in 2020.
AHDB livestock analyst Charlie Reeve said the airbus tariff war between the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the pounding currency and confusion caused by the coronavirus pandemic, recorded sales.
The U.S. continuously imposed tariffs of 25% on various products on government subsidies paid to aircraft companies at the end of 2019. In 2020, 9,300 tons of dairy products were exported from British companies to the United States, with a value of 52 m.
Cheese export hit
Quickes, a specialty cheese maker based in Devon, reported significant declines in export sales, especially in the US market.
Overall, sales of specialty cheese have declined 28% since the first closure began last spring, according to owner Mary Quicke.
However, the decline in exports of family business products is still down 40% compared to the previous 12 months.
Much of that is due to specialty cheeses being sold through foreign catering services, and the sector collapsed as a result of measures to control the global spread of Covid-19.
In addition to factors such as the pound and tariff wars, Quicke highlighted potentially long-term changes in the US market.
American Cheese Service launched a very successful campaign called American Victory Cheese to warn the public of the cheesemaker’s plight, Quicke said.
This aroused patriotism in America and broke the tradition of putting specialty British products on cheese boards for Christmas and Thanksgiving.
These US markets are at the heart of UK cheese producers, and Quicke is concerned that UK products will be ousted in the near future.
There are a few very good American cheeses, and the winning campaign has accelerated the transition from imported products that have already started.
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