Recent figures revealed that 2020 was a record year for cheese, with retail sales of the dairy product rising by more than 15 per cent year on year in volume and by more than 16 per cent in terms of value. The figures also reveal that Cheddar cheese accounted for almost 50 per cent of the cheese market.
While it is likely that 2021 will not replicate the increases of last year as dining outside the home returns, Valentine’s Day this year offered producers a boost, with an extra 16 million kilos of meat, fish and poultry amounting to £85 million being sold compared with 2020. Cheese volumes also grew by 23 per cent compared to last year.
The same report shows that beef was the winning dish for loved up couples in February, with fillet, ribeye and sirloin steaks seeing the largest volume uplifts, with the amount of cheese being sold rising by an additional 4.1 million kilos.
However, while UK consumers enjoyed home-grown produce, exporters saw a marked decline in sales, mainly because of the added costs of trading with the European Union post Brexit. This could lead to some smaller producers becoming unable to export at all, certainly in the short term.
In fact, recent figures from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) indicate that in January, salmon sales plummeted by 98 per cent year on year, with beef exports only marginally less drastic, down 91 per cent, and whisky down 63 per cent.
Overall, food and drink exports to the EU fell by 65 per cent compared with January 2020, taking the value of exports to £399 million from £1.2 billion in January 2020.