According to HMRC data, exports of UK cheese reached the £615 million (m) mark last year – rising 23% from 2016.
The data showed value sales far outstripped export volumes, which rose by 5% from the previous year, to just over 170,000 tonnes.
Cheddar continued to be the most popular export. However, fresh cheeses, such as mozzarella, saw strong export growth in the year.
The majority of exports were shipped to European markets, with Ireland, France and the Netherlands purchasing the most. Shipments to Germany declined during the year, although this was offset by increased sales to Denmark and Poland.
The HMRC figures also showed an increase in cheese exports to Asia, mainly to the Philippines, with volumes up 27% year-on-year. The relatively high increase in average prices in these markets meant the value of cheddar exports rose by 57% over the year.
Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) senior export manager Lucy Randolph said the latest figures were “a testament to the high-quality cheese produced in the UK and the growing reputation for the country’s dairy products”.
“The 2017 data shows another strong year of growth for our cheese exports,” she added. “While the EU is still our main market and is vital for UK dairy exports, it is encouraging to see both volumes and value increase outside of Europe.
“AHDB is continuing to work with cheese producers in the UK to grow our exports in existing markets as well as developing new opportunities across the globe.”
Dairy UK chief executive Dr Judith Bryans said this growth in exports was an endorsement of the quality of British cheese.
“The growing success of British cheese exports in Asia is a testament to the quality and taste of our cheeses, and consumers recognising British cheeses as premium products.”
Earlier this month, supplier Dairygold announced the acquisition of storage and office space in a deal worth £1.2m.