Cheese exports reached their highest level for at least seven years in 2010, at 112,100 tonnes – an increase of 8.5% year-on-year, according to DairyCo Datum.

Exports of Cheddar grew by 19%, to 36,650t, with “other” cheese up by 5%, to almost 73,500t. Territorial cheese exports suffered a fall of 18% because of a loss of some European markets, but bounced up by 28% in December, compared to the previous year.

Butter exports fell by 22%, year-on-year, to 11,700t, with a large drop in sales of bulk and packet butter to European destinations only partially offset by a rise in bulk exports to world markets.

Imports of butter dropped by 6%, to 71,420t, with more than half of that loss attributed to Ireland. “The import trade continues to be dominated by Denmark/New Zealand and Ireland, which together account for 86% of all butter imports,” says DairyCo.

Cheddar imports fell by 7.4%, to 120,000t, with big drops from New Zealand/Australia and Canada. Imports of speciality cheese increased by 8%, to a record 311,000t.