Dairy prices look likely to fall further, but the decline
will potentially slowed by the need for buyers to refill depleted inventories,
and a drought threat to New Zealand production.
The UK's DairyCo bureau cautioned that, after falls in world
dairy commodity prices last month, "the same is expected in April", with values
undermined by the boost to output spurred by strong production margins.
"Wholesale prices are generally trending downwards across the
globe, as milk production continues to perform well allowing for stocks to
build," the bureau said.
A drop in values at the GlobalDairyTrade - where prices have
fallen more than 20% since early February, signalling a bear market - "acts as
an indication of where global wholesale prices could be going in the near
The market decline has already been begun to be reflected in
prices paid by processors to farmers, with FrieslandCampina, the Dutch
co-operative, this month cutting by E1.25, to E41.25, per 100 kilogrammes of
milk its offer to producers.
In continental Europe in particular, "any sustained pressure
on processor margins is likely to be reflected in farmgate prices," DairyCo
'More than enough
Meanwhile, Rabobank said that the market had begun a "slow
easing in dairy commodity prices", also highlighting the boosts to milk
production volumes from higher values.
The bank said that "exportable milk supplies began rising
strongly in the October-to-December quarter", as New Zealand producers ramped
up output in response to record price offerings.
Now a "strong" start to the northern hemisphere production
season, "on the back of an exceptional season in the southern hemisphere, is
now generating more than enough exportable supply to exceed additional import
needs" by China, whose demand has been key to supporting prices.
EU milk deliveries were 4.7% higher year on year in January,
the latest month available.
In the US, farm officials this month raised by 400m pounds
to 206.1bn pounds their forecast for milk production this year, representing an
increase of 4.9bn pounds year on year.
"In light of improved producer returns, a herd expansion is
expected later this year," the officials said.
However, Rabobank also highlighted dynamics, including
relatively small producer inventories, likely to counter somewhat the pressure
on dairy prices.
"The need to replenish depleted inventories in other key
markets [than China] will provide some support for the market," the bank said.
Also, while Australia's milk production has returned to
year-on-year growth, the strong pace of increase in New Zealand has shown signs
"Dry conditions continued to plague the upper North Island
through March, with the highly anticipated Cyclone Lusi providing disappointing
rain for most.
"While mil flows are tracking well above prior year levels
in those regions the prospect of a sharp, early end to the season remains."