Wyke Farms, the country's number four bestselling Cheddar by value [Top Products Survey], fell into the red between 2009 and 2010 as a result of fierce rivalry in Cheddar and "stock losses".

Results published at Companies House last week show Wyke Farms suffered a pre-tax loss of £879,000 in the year to 31 March 2010, having posted a £1.1m profit the previous year. Turnover was down by 1.9% to £73.2m.

Wyke said it had implemented a three-point plan to ensure a return to profit in the current financial year. It had invested in efficiencies and restructured the business to make it "fit for the future". Our accounts for the current period will show this", said MD Richard Clothier.

Performance in 2009 and 2010 had not hampered its prospects of becoming the second-biggest Cheddar brand by volume, he insisted. He blamed the pre-tax loss on "stock losses", having made mature cheese from very expensive milk but sold it into a market with depressed prices. He also claimed the premium on cheese had been eroded by fierce competition in branded Cheddar and aggressive retailer deals.

Wyke had already reduced its reliance on promotions in 2010 in order to position its dairy products as a more premium offer, he added. The company had consolidated its range from 450 to 150 products and invested in high-speed automated production lines, closing less efficient lines to cut labour costs.

Dairy Crest, which makes market leader Cathedral City Cheddar, reported a 50% slump in cheese profit to £16.9m in the same period .