There is set to be no surge in European milk production in 2015, according to the European Commission’s latest outlook for the dairy sector.

It says a further contraction of EU milk deliveries is expected in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014.

The Commission says from April, when quotas are abolished, provided demand supports milk prices, milk collection could progressively rebound given that forage availability is good and feed prices remain low.

Nevertheless, it says it is to be kept in mind that April and May correspond already to the peak of the season and therefore deliveries significantly higher than the exceptional levels of 2014 are not very likely, also in view of the expected lag in recovery of farm gate milk prices.

In 2015, the Commission forecast that the first year without quota, EU milk deliveries are expected to increase only moderately, by around 1%.

However, it says further supply increase can be expected especially in the countries where the number of dairy cows remains significantly higher than the year before according to the December livestock survey: Ireland (+4.2%), the Netherlands (+0.8%) or Germany (+0.7%).

The Commission says in several other Member States, cow slaughterings and on-going genetic improvements have led to significant decreases in dairy cow numbers: Poland (-2.2%), Estonia (-2.9%) or Denmark (-3.5%).

However, it says the number of heifers in Poland, two years or over, raised to calve was significantly higher than the year before, indicating potential for producing more milk, while heifers’ numbers, in Denmark or Estonia were oriented downwards questioning the ability to increase significantly milk production in 2015 in these two countries.

On average, the Commission says the number of heifers ready to start milk production in the coming months was significantly higher than last year (+2.3% for the EU- 28).

At EU level, in December 2014 the number of dairy cows was stable compared to 2013 putting an end to the exceptional rise in dairy cow numbers recorded in 2013.

However, in the EU-15 the Commission says a small further increase was recorded (+0.6%) for the third year in a row.