The sale of intervention stocks of butter and skim milk power, threatened for several weeks by the European Commission, began last week.

Public dairy stocks in the EU currently total about 230,000 tonnes of butter and 185,000 tonnes of skim milk powder.

With current production slightly below normal levels and with market prices well above the new post-July 1 intervention price levels, the Commission is taking the opportunity to clear some of its older stocks and, at the same time, force market prices downwards towards the new support levels.

The sale of two-year old butter has begun with a premium of 2% above the new intervention price but 6% below current prices for fresh butter.

With skimmed milk powder, the sale for general market use will start later in July.