UK dairy suppliers made export gains in the first half of this year - including a surge in demand for skimmed milk powder (SMP) from Algeria.

Food exports to Algeria grew 429% year on year to £61m in the first six months of 2014, according to figures published this week by the FDF. The increase was driven by a £37m hike in the amount of UK SMP bought by the North African country, to £47m. Grain suppliers also benefited, with barley exports to Algeria up £8m, and wheat up £5m.

The Algerian dairy boom follows UK suppliers competing successfully in a round of tenders earlier this year - and the Algerian government has this month launched another round.

With EU milk powder production up significantly this year - helping to absorb milk diverted from cheese production following the Russian import ban - it is hoped the new tenders will take some of the extra stock off the EU market.

The Russian trade embargo and a reduction in overall global dairy demand have been blamed for a raft of milk price cuts in recent months, and industry observers suggested lower prices had help to make UK dairy attractive to buyers such as Algeria.

Meanwhile, France also increased the amount of UK dairy produce it bought, with strong demand for UK processed milk, cheese and dairy spreads bringing a £35m increase in exports to the country.

The FDF shows total dairy exports up 25% y-o-y to £780m, with cheese up 12%, processed milk (including SMP) up 66%, and milk & cream up 19%.