UK cheese exports strongly matured in 2017 with a 23 per cent rise

British cheese is experiencing a golden age with Denmark and Poland showing more interest.

ON THE WHEY UP: A selection of British cheeses

Exports of cheese from the UK surpassed the £615 million mark last year – rising 23 per cent from 2016, according to the latest figures from HMRC.

The data shows that  volumes of exported cheese rose by five per cent from the previous year – reaching just over 170,000 tonnes. While cheddar continues to dominate exports, fresh cheeses, and in particular mozzarella, saw strong export growth in the year.

The lion’s share was shipped to European markets, with Ireland, France and the Netherlands remaining the most important destinations. Shipments to Germany have been declining, although exports to Denmark and Poland have increased.

Figures also show an increase in cheese exports to Asia, mainly to the Philippines, with volumes up 27 per cent year-on-year. The relatively high increase in average prices in these markets meant the value of cheddar exports rose by 57 per cent over the year.

AHDB Senior Export Manager Lucy Randolph said the latest figures are a testament to the high quality cheese produced in the UK and the growing reputation for the country’s dairy products.

“The 2017 data shows another strong year of growth for our cheese exports,” she added. “While the EU is still our main market and is vital for UK dairy exports, it is encouraging to see both volumes and value increase outside of Europe.

“AHDB is continuing to work with cheese producers in the UK to grow our exports in existing markets as well as developing new opportunities across the globe.”

The AHDB export team are attending the international trade show Food and Hotel Asia in Singapore this week and will be joined by nine producers from the UK who will be exhibiting premium cheese and dairy products to more than 40,000 trade delegates.

Cheese isn’t the only export seeing a solid year. In 2017, more than £680 million of chocolate from the UK was bought by foreign consumers – an 84 per cent rise from 2010’s £370 million.

After Scotch whisky, which clocks in at over £4 billion, chocolate is the nation’s most valuable food export.

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