Archive: Cheese trade balance improving after impact of 2013 stock shortages

Published 22 October 14

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UK cheese production has increased by 6.3% for the first seven months of this year in relation to the same period in 2013, reaching levels similar to 2012. Following the impacts of the lack of milk supplies in 2012/13 on cheese production, the 10% increase in milk deliveries over this period has meant cheese production has grown and allowed manufacturers to rebuild stocks. This has led to an improvement in the cheese trade balance from last year, although the growth in exports has not fully offset increased import volumes.

Just over a third of the increase in cheese production has been taken up by increased exports, which were up 7.2% (5,200 tonnes) in the first seven months of 2014 compared to the same period the previous year and 5.7% higher than in 2012. Fresh cheese exports to EU destinations accounted for the majority of this increase.

Total cheese imports into the UK have increased by around 4,200 tonnes (1.6%) over the same period, dominated by an increase in fresh cheese imports which accounted for over 80% of the increased volume. Conversely, imports of Cheddar fell year-on-year by 2.9% when comparing the first seven months of 2014 with the same period the previous year. In the Cheddar market, significant reductions in volumes of imports from Ireland and the Netherlands have been partially offset by increases in volumes from New Zealand and the USA.

Of particular note is the 3,053 tonnes of Cheddar imported from the USA during the first seven months of 2014, this compares to no imports the previous year. Imports from the USA account for 4.8% of total Cheddar imports into the UK for the first seven months of 2014. Historically, imports of Cheddar from the USA to the UK have been sporadic and when they have occurred have typically accounted for around 1% or less of total imports.