Tricks of the cheese trade

The news last week that the UK and Canada had broken off trade deal talks due to Canada’s tariff schemes is set to have an impact on both cheese markets, as the UK provides just over two million kilograms of cheese to Canada annually, making it its fifth largest supplier to the country, according to international trade data and reported on the BBC website.

However, a 245 per cent tariff has been put on UK cheese exporters since the beginning of 2024, and exporters such as Coombe Castle International, which is the largest exporter to Canada, are feeling the impact in the UK.

While Canadian cheese is not a big seller in Britain, this is not the case in reverse, with the BBC reporting that the Canadian Cheese Council of Canada, which represents small and medium-sized cheese importers and their suppliers, said the expiry of the time-limited agreement that allowed the UK to continue to sell cheese without high tariffs has already caused “significant” disruption in the industry and “will cripple cheese importers as well as small cheese shops across Canada,” it said.

Another change occurring for British and EU producers is the border target operating model (BTOM), which comes into force on 31 January, where EU exporters of animal and plant products to the UK, such as eggs, dairy, meat and berries, will need to present export health certificates to British authorities. Physical checks will start on 30 April, while the requirement for safety and security certificates will begin on 31 October. Dairy comes under the medium to high risk categories, so will require checks from vets before export to the EU. These are similar to the EU checks that are already in place for UK exports to the continent.

Part of this is being driven by the World Trade Organization, which states that trade borders for the EU need to match those for the rest of the world, so as not to give EU products a trading advantage.

It should be interesting. When the EU imposed its controls back in 2021, total exports from the UK to the EU dropped by 40 per cent, while food and live animal exports fell by 64 per cent. And this time, it doesn’t look very well organised either, but this is something to expect from the current Conservative government here. Organised chaos is a misnomer with the first word.

Cheese is a very important part of the dairy sector, so don’t miss your chance to mingle with the great and good from the cheese making industry, at the International Cheese and Dairy Expo, set for 27 June in Stafford, UK. Along with the Society of Dairy Technology Symposium and Dinner on 26 June and the ICDA Awards and networking lunch, it promises to be a solid two days of all things dairy in the UK. Don’t miss it! Please contact Samantha Bull for ways to get involved, ranging from exhibiting to speaking: [email protected].

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