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Four out of every five cheddar products have seen an increase in price over the past year

Cheddar, soft cheese and feta prices have continued to rise in recent months despite farmgate milk prices falling.

Four out of every five cheddar products in the traditional big four supermarkets have seen an increase in price since this time last year, according to analysis of Assosia data by The Grocer, with the average price across cheddar up by 20% between 4 July 2022 and 27 June 2023.

The biggest riser over the past year was a Morrisons For Farmers Extra Mature Cheddar 350g line, which is now 65% dearer at £3.29 (from £2). A Sainsbury’s West Country Farmhouse Mature Cheddar Cheese 400g line has climbed by 64.4%, from £2.25 to £3.70 over the 12-month period.

Half of all price hikes across the cheddar category have been by more than 20% over the past year – far above the rate of inflation on groceries more broadly.

Some 87% of soft cheeses and salad cheeses at the big four mults have also climbed in price over the past year, with hikes of as much as 71% year on year.


A Tesco Salad Cheese 200g jumped by 71.4%, from £1.05 to £1.80 in a year, while Asda’s 40% Less Fat Salad Cheese 200g climbed 60% to £1.60.

When it came to soft cheese, Tesco also took the lead on price hikes, with its Creamfields Soft Cheese 200g jumping by 69% to 83p year on year.

Cheese has continued to rise in price despite cuts to farmgate milk prices since the turn of the year.

According to Defra data, the UK average farmgate price fell by 9.5% to 39.43ppl in April. This represented a drop of 23.6% on the record 51.60ppl average price recorded last December, while prices since April have continued to fall further.

Most major retailers cut their milk prices in April citing falling production costs, and in May, Freshways and Arla were among many major processors to announce further cuts to farmgate milk prices, with both processors citing an increase in global milk supplies and reduced domestic demand.

Freshways said the recent retail price cuts by the mults had put pressure on the business to reduce prices, with MD Bali Nijjar describing the price cut as “necessary in order to maintain our competitiveness in the marketplace”.

More recently Sainsbury’s has announced a raft of further price cuts on core dairy lines. “Whenever we are paying less for the products we buy from our suppliers, we will pass those savings on to customers”, said food commercial director Rhian Bartlett at the time.

However, cheese appears to be bucking this trend, which looks to be due to a delay in costs filtering through to shelf edge prices. “The production cycle for cheese is longer than for other dairy products”, said Susie Stannard, lead analyst for dairy at AHDB, who pointed to how cheeses like mature cheddar are aged for between three and 12 months or even longer.

“This means that cheese was made at a time where milk prices were still high and therefore cheese prices will take longer to come down than for other dairy products.”

It’s not just farmgate prices that affect the cost of cheese, however. “Prices may be more reflective of a commercial decision than anything else,” said Stannard.

And some price rises have been seen as recently as this week.

Assosia data for The Grocer’s Key Value Items tracker (below) shows the cheapest priced (per weight) own label mature cheese jumped by 17p in Morrisons this week to £4.44, while own-label feta has increased by 10p to £2.10 in Tesco.