As the UK continues to tuck into cheese platters and pops bottles of bubbles this festive period, the UK cheese and wine industries are celebrating a decade of growth and innovation.
Both have grown from strength to strength, with the UK cheese export market now worth £675m and 130% more English and Welsh wine produced in 2018 compared to 2017.
Over the past decade, English and Welsh wine has become one of the UK’s fastest-growing agricultural sectors, with hectarage planted in Britain growing by 194% in the last ten years.
The industry has also raked in the accolades, with English Sparkling Wine producer Nyetimber winning the 2018 International Wine Challenge (IWC) trophy for Sparkling Winemaker of the Year – the first time the award has been granted to both a woman and a winemaker outside of the Champagne region.
With Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) predicting UK wine production will reach around 40 million bottles by 2040 – and with famed French Champagne houses Taittinger and Pommery buying land in England’s south – the future continues to look bright for this burgeoning industry.
Cheese production in the UK increased steadily by 7% since 2015, with 465,000 tonnes of British cheese produced in 2018 alone. Whilst British Stilton, Caerphilly, and Wensleydale continue to be some of the UK’s most popular cheeses, cheddar reigns supreme as one of the UK’s top exports. In the US, UK cheese imports are worth £50m, with 90% of UK dairy exports to the US being cheese. In China, demand for UK cheese is growing by 20% each year.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “One of the great opportunities of Brexit is the chance to expand exports of our world-renowned food and drink, and the growth of our innovative cheese and wine industries is testament to this.
“As we prepare to leave the EU, we will always champion our fantastic farmers and producers, to ensure their produce continues to be enjoyed not only at special events such as New Year’s Eve – but all year round.”
Chairman of Wines of Great Britain (WineGB), Simon Robinson, said: “The UK’s traditional method sparkling wines have been gaining international recognition over many years now, and as our success continues, we anticipate even further growth overseas in the years to come.
“Wine tourism in the UK is flourishing and we are producing some still wines which are earning their place on top wine lists. We are proud of the ongoing success of this industry and are looking to the future with confidence!”