Brexit might cause cheese crisis, warns report

We camembert the thought (sorry)

Rachel Hosie
Wednesday 20 September 2017 12:23

We don’t want to alarm you, but it may be time to start stockpiling halloumi, mozzarella and brie: The UK could be facing a cheese crisis.

And yes, Brexit is to blame.

A report by the British Retail Consortium warns that we can expect food shortages and rising prices across the board, but it’s our beloved cheese boards that may suffer most.

According to the report, a cheese crisis may be looming due to rising import costs - French comté, Spanish manchego and Italian burrata prices are already increasing.

Never mind, you may think. At least we’ll always have cheddar.

But you’d be wrong.

Even cheddar is at risk because 82 per cent (a whopping 78,000 tonnes) of the cheddar we eat in the UK comes from Irish cheesemakers.

As Brexit becomes a reality, there are fears that Ireland could move away from cheddar and begin to focus its production on cheeses that will appeal more to a European market.

Of course, this is most distressing news - Brits spent £2.8bn on cheese over the past year.

Brexit could bring about more export costs for the industry too.

“We are already at the top of the price bracket for artisanal cheeses in European countries,” says cheese buyer for Neal's Yard Dairy, Bronwen Percival.

“It’s likely that significant tariffs on cheese exports are going to hurt our sales in ways that we will not make up domestically.”

Many producers are panicking, such as Dominic Coyte, who runs Borough Cheese Company. He has always imported many European cheese such as comté and gouda, but is now planning on selling British cheese for the first time in years.

“Brexit for us is a disaster,” he says. “Everyone talks about the weaker pound being good for export — well, that might be the case for some, but it’s the total opposite for me.”

He’s been forced to increase his prices by 15 per cent.

See you in the cheese aisle.

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