Asian demand helps UK export record amount of cheese

British cheese exports to Asia grew by 289.3% over the past 5 years compared to just 39.4% to the EU
British cheese exports to Asia grew by 289.3% over the past 5 years compared to just 39.4% to the EU

British cheese exports reached a record £665m in 2018 as demand over the past five years from emerging markets across Asia reaches an all time high.

This places the UK within the top 10 biggest exporters of cheese worldwide, according to HMRC data,

Historically, the European Union has always been the top destination for British cheese, with the Republic of Ireland consuming more than any other country.

More recently, however, demand from Asian economies has grown at an unparalleled pace.



British cheese exports to the region grew by 289.3% over the past 5 years compared to just 39.4% to the EU.

The fastest growing export market is China, where demand increased from £67,000 in 2013 to £6.5 million in 2018.



It’s a similar story 3,500km southwards in Malaysia, with exports climbing from £103,000 to £4.7 million.

Outside of the EU, the US was the biggest contributor to the increase in exports of UK cheese over the past five years, increasing by £10.3 million to £50.0 million in 2018.

Lebanon was the second largest contributor, with exports to the region increasing by £7.6 million in five years to £9.0 million in 2018.

Cheddar - the UK's most popular cheese export

The appeal of British cheese is global, with 47 countries worldwide now importing over £1 million worth of produce.

Cheddar is by far the UK’s most popular cheese export, accounting for nearly half of the market (48.1%) and worth £319.7 million in 2018.

Fresh cheese, such as British Mozzarella-style products, followed behind in terms of popularity.



One business tapping into overseas demand for UK cheese is Snowdonia Cheese Company who were founded in North Wales in 2001 by a group of dairy farmers.

Over the last seven years its expanded into international markets including Canada, US, Europe, Australia and Asia.

A spokesperson said: “These markets in particular seem to have a real affinity with British products and consumers and investors have been extremely warm and welcoming to us - it’s helped to grow the business significantly.

“In Asia we have established business in Singapore and Hong Kong where we work with local distributors. They are selling our products into the foodservice and retail sectors.”