Last year the average butterfat content of UK milk
continued its downward trend and fell below 4% for the second year running. With the average at 3.97%, this is the lowest level recorded so far.
This represents a reduction of about 35,000 tonnes of fat annually in UK milk supplies.
In contrast with the lower fat trend, the average protein content of UK milk is increasing and reached an estimated 3.31% in 2003.
This is the highest level seen over the past decade.
These contrasting trends are welcomed by the UK cheese industry but are more of a problem for the liquid milk industry, where most bottled or carton milk has the fat content standardised downwards to 3.5% or to even lower levels for skimmed and semi-skimmed.