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UK cheese trade

Updated 20 March 2020

Data on UK trade in cheese is provided here to give an overview of recent activity. Monthly import and export volumes are reported, split by product group and trading regions.

Overview: January 2020

  • The UK continued to have a trade deficit in cheese, although it was 12% lower in January 2020 than a year earlier. While there was a decrease in exports, this was smaller than the decrease in imports.
  • Export volumes for the January 2020 were down 5% (981 tonnes) from last year.
  • Imports are also down in January 2020, at 9% (3,563 tonnes) lower than January 2019.
  • As the vast majority of cheese trade is done with the EU, coronavirus did not impact trade in January.
  • For the full year 2019, export volumes were up 9% on 2018, while import volumes were up 2%.

Imports

  • The UK imported 36,217 tonnes of cheese in January, 9% less than a year earlier.
  • Cheddar made up 17% of January import volumes, and mozzarella accounted for 13%.
  • Imports of Cheddar, mozzarella, fresh cheeses and territorials were all down compared to January 2019, although imports of other cheeses were 5% higher.
  • For the full year 2019, imports of Cheddar totalled 121,353 tonnes, 12% higher than in 2018 and was the largest contributor to overall cheese import growth. There was a 5% (5,868 tonnes) increase in volumes of fresh cheese imports in 2019 while total mozzarella imports were 6,603 tonnes lower (-10%).

Exports

  • In January, UK cheese exports totalled 17,099 tonnes, 5% less than in January last year.
  • Exports of territorials, mozzarella and ‘other cheeses’ were up compared to January 2019, while exports of Cheddar and fresh cheese (excl. mozzarella) were down on the year.
  • While the EU remained the main export market, accounting for 82% of shipments in January, exports to the EU were down 8% on January 2019. Meanwhile, shipments to non-EU destinations increased by 6%, up 182 tonnes from January 2019.
  • Mozzarella exports more than doubled year on year, up 147% (2,541 tonnes) compared to January 2019.
  • For the full year 2019, mozzarella had the largest growth in annual export volumes, shipping 85% more than in 2018. Cheddar exports also grew over this period (9%), while fresh cheese exports fell by 21%.