Exports of cheese from the UK surpassed the £615m mark last year - rising 23 per cent from 2016, according to the latest figures from HMRC.

The data shows volumes of exported cheese rose by five per cent from the previous year - reaching just over 170,000 tonnes. While cheddar continues to dominate exports, fresh cheeses - and in particular mozzarella - saw strong export growth in the year.

The lion's share was shipped to European markets with Ireland, France and the Netherlands remaining the most important destinations. Shipments to Germany have been declining, although replaced by increased sales to Denmark and Poland.

Figures also show an increase in cheese exports to Asia, mainly to the Philippines, with volumes up 27 per cent year-on-year. The relatively high increase in average prices in these markets meant the value of cheddar exports rose by 57 per cent over the year.

* Meanwhile, AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) has announced that Ayrshire dairy farmer Scott Shearlaw is one of four new members appointed to its Dairy Board.

Mr Shearlaw farms 500 acres at High Garphar Farm, Maybole in partnership with his parents, milking 330 mainly crossbred cows in a split block calving system. Previously he worked as a Construction Project Manager for a global construction and property company, and was recently part of the Nestle Next Generation Leaders Programme, which inspired him to apply for this position.

The other three new directors are Welsh milk producer Peter Rees, and English producers Andrew Fletcher and David Craven.

Market round-up

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold 6 prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 234p per kg and an average of 221.3p.

In the rough ring 7 beef cows averaged 135.1p and 39 dairy cows levelled at 115.4p.

The firm also sold 552 prime hoggs to a top of £140 per head and 271p per kg to average 236.2p (+9.4p on the week).

A nice show of 320 cast sheep saw heavy ewes sell to £130.50 for Texels and average £88.75, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £86.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £71.70.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 395 prime hoggs in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of £132 and 275.6p to average 237.9p (+31.9p), while 3 prime lambs fetched £119 or 283.3p. Included in the overall average for prime hoggs were 209 Blackfaces that peaked at £115.50 and 267.5p to level at 239.1p.

The 120 cast sheep forward saw heavy ewes sell to £127.50 for Suffolk crosses and average £96.60, while light ewes peaked at £90.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £74.68.