Dairy UK and the British Cheese Board are to pool resources in a bid to unify and strengthen the voice of UK cheese suppliers.

The decision to work more closely together, announced at the Nantwich Cheese Show this week, will allow BCB and Dairy UK’s Cheese Group to share each others’ expertise.

Small and medium-sized BCB cheese producers have been invited to join Dairy UK, while Dairy UK Cheese Group members, many of which are big manufacturers, have been urged to become part of BCB. Several dozen smaller BCB members have already signed up to Dairy UK.

Until now, the two sides have put their views across separately, with Dairy UK more government-focused and BCB more consumer-facing. Both parties said the move, which has prompted speculation the two bodies could one day merge, was supported by cheesemakers. 

“Members will benefit from the professional ­lobbying and technical expertise of Dairy UK as well as the consumer-facing work undertaken by the British Cheese Board,” said the board’s secretary Nigel White. However, he stressed there were currently no plans to merge. “It’ll be down to the members to decide,” he said. 

Dairy UK’s increased membership would give it more strength to represent the industry through its lobbying and promotional activities, said its director general, Jim Begg. “We are now all working towards one goal: driving sales and profitability for our members and raising the positive profile of cheese with stakeholders and consumers alike,” he added.

BCB’s remit is to educate the consumer about the nutritional benefits of cheese as part of a balanced diet, while Dairy UK was set up to express the views of the dairy industry to the government and public. 

The two bodies will remain legally separate entities. There will be no changes to either organisation’s name or structure.