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9 December 2022: The wisdom of W S Gilbert

When you have nothing else to wear But cloth of gold and satins rare, For cloth of gold you cease to care — Up goes the price of shoddy

This stanza from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Gondoliers is a wry look at relative values of commodities, but this week has seen some strange divergences.

Taking the two biggies first, both sweet whey and skim milk finally answered unavoidable fundamentals this week and fell 2% (-€20) and 6% (-€180) respectively,

We’ve done to death the reasons behind this, and it doesn’t look like it’s over yet, but what is interesting is the effect the other ingredient that goes into the milk powder mix is having on pricing, namely vegetable protein. These have been cheaper than dairy proteins for pretty much ever, but rose in line with dairy proteins as the commodity world went through the roof. Wheat gluten rose from €1450 to €3250 and it's still there, ostensibly by milling wheat prices holding up, but manipulated by too few producers. So the former cheap option in milk powder blends is now the dearer and allowing the dairy farmer to trade up to higher dairy protein milk replacers for a smaller premium than previously.

Talking about vegetable proteins, it’s been an interesting week in soya and palm. Soybeans are pretty much even over the week, but meal has put on $40 a tonne on buoyant exports, whilst soya oil dropped from 74 to 61 cents on the back of a sharp reduction in requirement to incorporate it into biodiesel. Palm oil has shrugged off reducing production and solid export demand to fall slightly on an EU directive limiting sourcing agricultural produce from deforested areas.

BDC agri is the UK broker for Lacto Production milk and whey powder products.

For further information and prices, contact Greg Dunn on 01206 381521 or


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