Cheddar make boosted by sourcing of more milk More milk supplies have been found by UK cheese manufacturers to replenish their dwindling stocks, particularly those of Mature Cheddar. With milk shortages for manufacture looming as a result of FMD culling, cheese makers will be glad of the opportunity to put extra cheese into store to tide them over some lean months to come later this year. Supplies had dwindled by 7% in the year to December. But a turnaround started in December with cheese make levels up 8% on a year earlier and continued in January with 6% more cheese being made. Details for February and March are not yet available but manufacturers confirm that milk supplies for cheese making have been up on the low levels of the previous year. Most of the extra make has been concentrated on Cheddar. In England and Wales, where most UK Cheddar is made, milk for Cheddar use rose 11% in December and 8% in January. Manufacturers point out, however, that these higher levels of cheese output are still lower than the volumes produced in late 1998 and early 1999. The extra milk used for cheese largely came at the expense of butter making and output of whole milk powder. In January, whole milk powder output dropped 21% on a year earlier and UK butter make was down 4% in the same month. It is difficult to estimate the extent to which the national dairy herd has been cut back by slaughter for FMD, according to the Provision Trade Federation. The first reliable data on cow numbers will come from the June cattle census. Recent estimates suggest the number of dairy farms affected by culling are probably around 500, amounting to 300 million litres a year. This suggests we have already lost 2.2% of national milk output. FMD has played its part in significantly dampening down milk deliveries this year. {{M/E CANNED GOODS }}

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