Dairy product prices fell at the Global Dairy Trade auction, dragged lower by an unexpected plunge in anhydrous milk fat.

The GDT price index slipped 0.6 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago. The average price was US$3,477 a tonne. Some 17,222 tonnes of product was sold, down from 18,635 tonnes two weeks ago.

Whole milk powder rose 1.6 percent to US$3,278 a tonne.

"Fonterra did release its February milk production data yesterday, which showed its collections were down 4 percent year on year," Amy Castleton, AgriHQ dairy analyst, said in a note. "This likely provided support to whole milk powder prices."

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At the latest GDT auction, anhydrous milk fat sank 7 percent to US$5,806 a tonne, while skim milk powder slid 1.8 percent to US$1,849 a tonne.

"Anhydrous milk fat was expected to hold relatively steady over the next few months, as demand has been steady and supply is limited, especially from New Zealand," Castleton said. "There was less AMF sold at this event than at the previous event—though still 42 percent more than at the same event a year ago."

"AMF prices are now at about the same level they were a year ago," she added.

Meanwhile, rennet casein rallied 12.1 percent to US$5,668 a tonne, while butter climbed 4.1 percent to US$5,494 a tonne.

Cheddar rose 2.2 percent to US$3,679 a tonne, while lactose rose 1.1 percent to US$549 a tonne, and buttermilk powder added 1 percent to US$1,988 a tonne.

The New Zealand dollar last traded at 72.61 US cents as of 12.52pm in New York, compared with 72.13 US cents at the previous close in Wellington.

There were 123 winning bidders out of 169 participating at the 16-round auction. The number of registered bidders rose to 514, up from 513 at the previous auction.