Provisional figures from the ministry of agriculture confirm the extent to which UK output of dairy product was hit last year by the almost unprecedented cuts in UK milk production. The production of liquid milk, about half of all UK milk output, fell by an estimated 1.7%, one of the largest declines for several years. Compared with 1999, UK butter output fell back last year by 7.7% and creamery cheese output was down by 7.2%. Even more swingeing was the drop in production of skim milk powder of 19.4%. Cream output was down by 5.8% and condensed milk by a more modest 1.2%. The only product which managed to capture more milk was whole milk powder where annual output rose by 4%, most of this product being exported to markets outside the EU. The position of dairy product manufacturers would have been even worse if exports of raw milk for overseas processing, mainly in the Republic of Ireland, had not dropped by 45 million litres last year or by about 10%. Such exports normally account for a modest 3% of UK milk production but grew in 1999 as Milk Marque sought to widen its range of outlets for its members' milk. The cessation of Milk Marque activity in April 2000 led to an immediate drop in raw milk exports. {{M/E CANNED GOODS }}