UK cheese exports hit record high

Published 6 October 15

According to HMRC, UK cheese exports reached 141k tonnes in the 12 months post the Russian ban (y/e Jul-15), the highest recorded level and 11k tonnes (9%) up on the previous year. The rise was driven mainly by sales to non-EU countries, including an additional 3k tonnes to South Africa and 3k tonnes to the Middle East/North Africa. For the same period, cheese imports to the UK fell by 11k tonnes (-2%). With cheese production in the UK fairly static, overall supply and demand would appear to be roughly back in balance, albeit still at a high overall stock level.

 

y/e Jul-14

y/e Jul-15

Movement

 

 

k tonnes

k tonnes

k tonnes

%

Production

405

405

0

0%

Imports

477

466

-11

-2%

Total supply

882

871

-11

-1%

 

 

 

 

 

Exports

130

141

11

9%

Disappearance

731

730

-1

0%

Total demand

861

871

10

1%

 

 

 

 

 

Estimate stock movements

21

0

 

 

Source: HMRC / PTF

The reduction in imports is welcome news for the UK industry. Increased exports, particularly to new and upcoming markets should help to lay solid foundations for future trade. However, HMRC also report the sterling value of exports, and analysis of this appears to show that a number of contracts have been won through aggressive pricing. Certainly, the step up in volumes to the Middle East/North Africa and South Africa coincided initially with some significant discounts compared with the export returns being achieved from other markets. While this may be UK cheese manufacturers clearing some of their high cheese stocks, if it leads to repeat orders, it could still bring benefits in the longer term.