Survey finds we spend nearly £40 each on cheese over the festive season, with British cheese beating France at its own fromage-game

With Christmas fast approaching, research reveals Britain’s 2018 yuletide cheeseboard will be almost entirely made up of British cheeses, with our much loved Cheddar coming out on top.

The findings from Arla, the UK’s largest cheese producer, show just how proud we are of our UK-made fare, with 68 per cent of us saying that British cheese producers are better than our French neighbours. The dairy co-operative, which includes 2,400 British dairy farmers amongst its owners, estimates it will sell over 7,000 tonnes of cheddar through UK retailers this December.

The survey of 2,000 consumers also found that we spend an average of £37.50 on our cheesy festive fare and eight out of ten cheeses on the all-important cheeseboard will be British this year. Our ultimate 2018 Christmas cheeseboard would be made up of the following ten cheeses: Cheddar, Stilton, Brie, Red Leicester, Camembert, Wensleydale, Wensleydale with Cranberries, Lancashire, Cheshire and Double Gloucester.

Arla owner, Darren Furse, is a seventh generation farmer with 320 dairy cows in Sutcombe, Devon. He comments: “Christmas Day is like any other day for dairy farmers. The cows still need milking, feeding and the farm looking after so we can make sure we’re meeting the demand there is for British made Cheddar all year round.

“I’m very proud to be one of Arla’s farmer owners, making milk that goes into delicious cheese like Castello Tickler Extra Mature, which is a tangy sweet cheddar made right here in Devon. As we’re always striving to make great quality, affordable produce, it’s a great feeling to know we’ve played a part in the milk and cheese products that make Christmas dinners taste amazing. From the cauliflower cheese, to the cheese and crackers, it’s certainly shaping up to be a dairy merry Christmas!”

We’re fast becoming a foodie nation that is obsessed with cheese, with 90 per cent of the 2,000 respondents saying they know more about cheese than they did 10 years ago.

When it comes to our buying habits for the rest of the year, Cheddar is by far the UK’s favourite, picked by two thirds (66 per cent) of those surveyed, with Red Leicester coming in second (35 per cent). Continental Brie and Camembert take third (24 per cent) and fourth places respectively, but with Britain making more continental-style cheeses, we’re becoming less reliant on imports.

Christmas is a key time for cheese eaters, with over three quarters (76 per cent) of those surveyed saying that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it. And it’s not just for the mature, with the younger Millennial generation (16-29 year olds) splashing out a massive £44 on festive fromage.

The research also shows that we like to eat cheese as simply as possible with more than half of us (55 per cent) opting for a cream cracker, but we’ll also settle for a seeded cracker (32 per cent) or a water biscuit (23 per cent). But, one in five of us (20 per cent) love nothing more than sweet/savoury hit of cheese on a digestive biscuit.

We’ll most likely eat cheese with some pickle (39 per cent) or a blob of chutney (34 per cent) but around one in ten of us are a bit more adventurous and pair it with chocolate (8 per cent) or Marmite (9 per cent).

Cheese-eating differs by region with one in five people in Yorkshire eating Wensleydale with a slice of Christmas cake. One in ten of us love a bit of deep fried Brie with cranberry sauce and four percent will fry some Stilton with leftover Christmas pudding.

Regionally, Sheffield is the cheese capital of Britain, spending a massive £46 each on festive dairy compared to £25 in Norwich. Staying proud to their roots, those in Leicester top the list for Red Leicester as a favourite, with 56 per cent preferring the variety.

There were differences between generations and genders too. Young people aged between 16 and 29 were three times more likely to choose Halloumi as a favourite cheese than over 60s. 30 percent of youngsters picked the squeaky Cypriot as a favourite compared to just eight per cent of over 60s.

And nearly a third (29 per cent) of women picked Camembert as a favourite compared to just 19 per cent of men.

Brit’s top twenty favourite cheeses:

  1. Cheddar 66%
  2. Red Leicester 41%
  3. Brie 36%
  4. Stilton 28%
  5. Camembert 27%
  6. Double Gloucester 26%
  7. Wensleydale 23%
  8. Cheshire 23%
  9. Wensleydale with cranberries 20%
  10. Lancashire 18%
  11. Halloumi 18%
  12. Emmental 17%
  13. Parmesan 16%
  14. Goat’s cheese 16%
  15. Feta 16%
  16. Cheese with flavourings like gin 13%
  17. Yorkshire Blue 12%
  18. Gorgonzola 10%
  19. Manchego 8%
  20. Roquefort 9%

Arla Foods is a global dairy company and co-operative owned by 11,200 dairy farmers with circa 2,400 of whom are British.

Dating back to 1881, Arla’s purpose is to secure the highest value for its farmers’ milk, while creating opportunities for their growth. With production facilities in 11 countries and sales offices in a further 30, Arla is the world’s fifth largest dairy company and largest supplier of organic dairy products. Arla has a total of more than 18,000 colleagues and its products are sold under the well-known brands Arla®, Lurpak® and Castello® in more than 100 countries.

Arla Foods UK is the largest dairy company in the country and is home to leading dairy brands Anchor®, Arla Cravendale®, and Arla Lactofree® with a turnover of €2.9 billion. The UK is largest market within the Europe Zone, contributing 35% of the zone’s turnover and also comprises 25% of the Group revenue.

As well as being a leading supplier of fresh milk, number one in butter, spreads and cream, Arla is the UK’s largest cheese manufacturer. It has also built the world’s largest fresh milk facility located at Aylesbury that later this year will become the first net zero carbon site of its kind. The UK business has a team of approximately 3,500 colleagues located at its dairies, creameries, distribution centres and head office.

Contact Information

Flic Callaghan

07980 948159