Milk deliveries to UK dairies during May showed an increase of 4% over April.
According to estimates by the Rural Payments Agency, milk production reached its annual peak in the second half of May and is now following its normal seasonal decline. The total output in May is the highest ever recorded since the industry was deregulated in 1994. This gives strength to the view that a large number of farmers are changing their seasonal production pattern into one where they produce more milk cheaply off grass in the spring and early summer and less from expensive concentrate feeds in the autumn and winter.
This may give farmers lower average production costs, but it gives a headache to the dairies who have to provide large capacity to process peak milk supplies, but then see that capacity seriously under-utilised for most of the year.

n purse offer
Independents will be able to pick up a range of speciality cheeses thanks to a deal between Nisa-Today's and cheese producer Shepherds Purse.
Nisa Chill, the group's central distribution warehouse, will be carrying three pre-packed 125g cheeses ­ Yorkshire Blue, Mrs Bell's Blue and Yorkshire Feta. The products will also be available for the deli counter.
John Kerwin, associate director of Shepherds Purse, said: "We are delighted to have formed this link with Nisa Chill. It means we can offer more consumers the opportunity to enjoy the flavour and texture of handmade cheese."
If successful, Nisa Chill may extend the range.

n heler applause
A leading cheesemaker has been recognised for his commitment to the industry.
Joseph Heler, owner and chairman of Nantwich based Joseph Heler Cheese, has been awarded the 2003 Cheese Industry Award for Lifelong Contribution.
Judges noted how, since founding his business in 1957, Heler has built the company into the largest producer of regional cheese and the fifth largest producer of cheese in the UK, with a turnover of £40m.

n spanish shortage
Spanish canners are facing a curtailed packing period due to a shortage of raw material.
The normal five-week season is reduced to 10 days during which both foodservice and retail packs have to be completed.
Prices will be at least 25% above last year's, due not only to the increased cost of fruit, but the 15% devaluation of sterling against the euro.
Packers are insisting on quick shipment so importers will face the additional cost of extended storage.
Buyers may be tempted to source half of their requirements in Spain and leave the balance to South Africa at the end of the year.
This would be a risky gamble as South Africa has never been noted for its competitive pricing on apricots.
Hardest hit will be the foodservice sector as reports from Murcia suggest only two canners will pack the 3kg can.
If this is correct, the pricing issue will be compounded by a potential shortage of product.