Ireland stockpiling cheddar in response to Brexit risk

Published 23 October 18

AHDB recently identified Ireland as a key source of 2018 cheddar imports, contributing to the UK’s worsening trade deficit. The latest trade figures show that the UK imported 60,643 tonnes of cheddar from Ireland between January and August, up 16% on the same period in 2017 and worth £164 million.

In the first half of the year, imports were higher than the two previous years for 5 months out of 6. Imports then eased off in July and August, but this might have been a temporary reaction to Irish supply concerns during the drought.

Irish Imports

According to press reports, the increase in imports is the result of Irish processors stockpiling cheddar in the UK as a safeguard against a no-deal Brexit. This will enable them to keep supplying supermarkets without a tariff-related price hike, at least while stocks last. It would also reduce the opportunity for domestic producers to displace Irish supply should trade become more difficult, at least in the short term. Longer term, the potential for the UK to displace imported cheddar will depend on the UK-EU trade relationship, and the level at which the UK sets its WTO tariffs.