Exports of British cheese rose by more than a fifth in the first nine months of 2008, according to new Government figures.

Cheese exports rose by 22.3% compared to the first nine months of 2007, according to data from UK Trade & Investment.

That came as total food exports rose by 16% to £10bn over the period, buoyed in part by the weakness of the pound.

“The Wallace & Gromit effect has certainly raised the awareness of British cheese as a whole and has been particularly helpful with Wensleydale,” Sandra Bell of the Wensleydale Creamery told the Daily Mail after exports of Wensleydale rose by 23%.

Last year there was a sharp rise in the amount of cheap Cheddar imported to the UK as domestic producers switched their focus to higher-value premium products.

The UK imported 113,000 tonnes of Cheddar between January and October 2008, up 30% year-on-year.