An estimated 12.7 million tonnes of cows’ milk were collected from EU farms in March 2020, which was +1.2% higher than in March 2019. This confirms the medium-term development of higher levels of cows’ milk collection in the EU. In the immediate-term, therefore, the level of cows’ milk collected in the EU does not seem to have been affected by the containment measures for the COVID-19 pandemic.
In most Member States, the collection of milk in March 2020 was higher than in March 2019; chief amongst these were rises in Germany (+0.5% to 2.8 million tonnes), France (+0.6% to 2.2. million tonnes), the Netherlands (+3.0% to 1.2 million tonnes) and Poland (+1.9% to 1.1 million tonnes), although collection was lower in Italy (-2.8% at 1.1 million tonnes).
The level of cows’ milk collected in the EU in March 2020 was higher than that in February 2020, reflecting the usual seasonal spring upswing that comes with the availability of fresh grass. March data also suggest an above-seasonal increase in the production of butter and drinking milk, in both quantity and the share of milk used. On the other hand, seasonal growth in the production of skimmed milk powder was more limited than in previous years.
Even though the level of cows’ milk production in March does not appear to have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, the data do not say anything about all of the possible blocks in the chain getting milk and dairy products through to consumers, nor about the impacts on prices, nor about the possible changes in the detailed way of marketing dairy products.
The monthly statistics of milk and milk products elaborated by the Member States under Directive 96/16/EC must be representative of the cows’ milk collected. Monthly production of milk products reported for the same enterprises may miss the part of production by enterprises not collecting cows’ milk. The reported monthly production of milk products represents at national level between 40% and 200% of the use of milk collected, depending on the national milk collection organisation, on the national need for monthly statistics on the milk products and on the use of foreign raw milk or stored dairy materials by the dairy sector. This diversity of cases is nevertheless usually stable and enables to analyse the changes. At the EU level, this rate is about 85%.
By chance, March 2019 and 2020 both covered 5 Sundays, making them more comparable.