Latest estimates suggest EU butter stocks will drop this year after modest increases in the last three years. A decline in fresh butter production has combined with steady offtake by consumers and industrial users. After dropping over the first half of the year, it is now projected total annual butter output will drop by over 60,000 tonnes or about 4%. Imports will probably grow slightly by up to 10,000t and exports are likely to fall back by about 10% or up to 20,000t. These changes, however, will not offset the cut in production and will leave EU markets in better balance than for many years. Full price consumer sales are showing little overall change while subsidised sales for food manufacture are growing with offtake up 15,000t or 6% in the first half of this year. The volume of butter placed into Private Storage Aid up to last week amounted to 148,000t, 15,000t more than last year. Public intervention stocks are falling and last week stood at 47,000t, 8,000t less than at the same time last year. {{M/E CANNED GOODS }}