Milk Link has made its first move into the Chinese market with a deal to supply cheese to retail and foodservice.

Under the deal, which kicked off this month, the British co-operative is supplying Stilton and Cheddar to leading Chinese dairy company Yili, which will distribute them to supermarkets and hotels.

The cheeses are being sold under Yili's Pureday brand, with the Milk Link logo included on packs.

Milk Link has initially signed a two-year export agreement with Yili, under which it expects to send at least 200 tonnes. However, with a rapidly growing Chinese middle class of 100 million people, there was huge potential to increase sales in future, said corporate affairs director Will Sanderson. The company already has strong ties to the US, among 20 export countries in total.