Cheddar deficit growing on back of rising imports

Published 10 September 18

Previously, AHDB published analysis on how trade has developed for key dairy products, showing an increasing deficit for the first half of the year. Looking specifically at trade of cheddar cheese, there has been a particularly large increase in the size of the trade deficit for cheddar, resulting from a jump up in imports.

Between 2016 and 2017, the trade deficit for cheddar improved due to both lower imports and some growth in exports. Interestingly, all of the export growth came from shipping more to EU destinations, as exports to non-EU countries fell year on year.

In the first half of 2018 (Jan-Jun), there has been some progress in selling more cheddar to non-EU destinations (such as SE Asia and the Middle East), while shipments to the EU were much the same as volumes sent in the second half of 2017.

However, cheddar imports have been steadily rising over the past 18 months, almost all of which originating from the EU, particularly from Ireland. In the first six months of 2018, imports increased 6% from the previous six-month period, equivalent to 2,800 tonnes. This has more than outstripped any growth in exports, causing the trade deficit to increase by 630 tonnes compared to the second half of 2017.

 UK cheddar trade

Following up on this, AHDB will publish analysis looking at the question on what is driving the increase in imports, especially as UK cheddar production in the six months in question is up on last year.