In Mature Cheddar and Farmhouse stocks are reported to be low and barely sufficient for some suppliers to maintain deliveries. This tight situation is due to a long period of lower make, particularly of Cheddar which accounts for two-thirds of all UK cheese manufacture. In 2002, when total cheese make was cut 4%, this was due to weak markets and an excess of stocks. In 2003 milk shortages in the winter led to a further 5% cut in annual make.
In the first half of this year, when milk supplies have fallen even further, DEFRA reports total UK cheese make down a further 1% up to April compared with the same period last year.
Domestically made Mild Cheddar is now selling at a minimum price of £2,100 per tonne, over 6% more than at the same time last year. Unbranded standard creamery mature Cheddar is comfortably commanding a premium of 15% over July 2003 prices while the year-on-year premium for Farmhouse is a minimum of 20%.