Exports of cheese from the UK surpassed the £615million mark last year, rising 23% from 2016, with cheddar remaining its biggest export – the latest figures from HMRC have revealed.

The data also shows that volumes of exported cheese have risen by around 5% from the previous year, reaching just over 170,000 tonnes.

While cheddar continues to dominate exports, fresh cheeses, particularly mozzarella, have also seen strong export growth in the year.

The largest share was shipped to European markets, with Ireland, France and the Netherlands remaining the most important destinations. Shipments to Germany, however, have been declining, although replaced by increased sales to Denmark and Poland.

Figures from the report also show an increase in cheese exports to Asia, mainly to the Philippines, with volumes up 27% year-on-year.

The relatively high increase in average prices in these markets meant the value of cheddar exports rose by 57% over the year.

AHDB senior export manager, Lucy Randolph, said the latest figures are a testament to the high-quality cheese produced in the UK and the growing reputation for the country’s dairy products.

She commented: “The 2017 data shows another strong year of growth for our cheese exports”

“While the EU is still our main market and is vital for UK dairy exports, it is encouraging to see both volumes and value increase outside of Europe.

“AHDB is continuing to work with cheese producers in the UK to grow our exports in existing markets as well as developing new opportunities across the globe.”