UK cheese production increased by 12% in the first quarter of 2014 to 102,000t – an 11% rise compared to the five-year average.

However, wholesale cheese markets remained relatively stable, indicating that production had not yet exceeded demand, said a report by DairyCo.

“Mild cheddar prices have dropped by just 1% in the first quarter, compared to the previous six-month average, while mature cheddar prices remain up 1%.”

The total GB retail cheese market grew in value over the past milk year, although volumes remained broadly static. According to figures from Kantar Worldpanel, the market value increased by 2.6% to £2.8bn in the year to 30 March, primarily due to higher retail prices. After hovering at about £6.50/kg for a year, average prices increased steadily from September 2013, reaching a rolling average of £6.63/kg by the end of March, possibly in response to rising wholesale prices during 2013.

Branded cheddar led the price increase, rising by 3.9% over the period compared to a 0.2% increase in own-label cheddar. Shoppers were now switching to own-label cheese as the price differential widened, the report said.