Food producer numbers in England and Wales continue to tumble
In January 2019, 33 producers hung up their milking aprons, leaving the industry with 1.9% fewer producers across England and Wales compared to January 2018. A total of 116 producers have exited the industry over the past three months, potentially indicating the start of a period of a higher departure rate from the industry.
Since the middle of 2016, exit rates from the dairy industry have been steadily declining, settling at around 1.5% over the past two years. For the majority of 2018, the rate of exit continued to decline, but has accelerated since October 2018.
The current exit rates have not been seen since mid-2016, during the prolonged period of low prices. It is possible that the recent elevated rates come as a result of the turbulent weather conditions experienced during 2018, and the resulting impact on margins. In addition, the proximity of Brexit, and the uncertainty it is creating, may also be influencing producer decisions. ■