First hand offtake of butter in the UK has been moving up sharply for two years running, according to recent estimates by DEFRA. In 2003, domestic production of butter rose by 8% to 147,000 tonnes while imports were only slightly higher at 119,000 tonnes.

Allowing for extra exports of 5,000 tonnes and for a 5,000 rundown of stocks held in the UK, this meant that total first hand offtake rose by 7% in the year to 227,000 tonnes.

This was the second year that the market has seen a 7% increase and, after years of slow decline, has brought the size of the butter market back to levels last seen 10 years ago.

A significant part of this growth is believed to be in the food-manufacturing sector.