Although butter output across the EU is moving towards its seasonal peak in May, prices for bulk supplies are showing a firm upward tendency. This is mainly because of the opening of the annual Private Storage Aid Scheme on March 15. The butter has to be placed into approved stores between mid-March and mid-August and withdrawn, after a minimum period of four months, between August and March next year. The prospect of price rises by the autumn appears quite high, partly because EU butter manufacture is likely to fall, and the scheme has started with keen support as nearly 9,000 tonnes have been stored in the first two weeks. This process of taking this volume of fresh butter off the market, with more to follow, is having the effect of pushing up current market prices, which are up by 2% to 3% in the past month. The total volume placed into Private Storage last year reached nearly 200,000 tonnes or about 12% of total EU annual butter output. This year may see even higher volumes being placed into temporary storage. {{M/E FRESH PRODUCE }}