The Department works with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board to promote cheese exports in the middle east and China. We have dedicated cheese stands at trade shows in the middle east, such as Gulfood. We promote cheese through China’s social media. We operate “meet the buyer” events. For example, I was out in Kuwait and United Arab Emirates, and saw for myself how our Department’s people on the ground try to ensure that major supermarket chains have access to British cheese. We have over 100 specialists in food, beverage and agriculture, and newly appointed agri-commissioners in key markets to continue to boost this important sector.
Mr Speaker, I hope you and the whole House will agree with me when I say that the cheese produced by the farmers of the four nations of this great country is the best in the world. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] So, I want to hear that cheese is at the heart of our trade and export policy. Let us hear about the action being taken to ensure that more people in the middle east, China, India and across the world are eating our Great British cheese.
Let me reassure my right hon. Friend that the grand fromage in No. 10 Downing Street—[Hon. Members: “Groan!”] It was certainly a cheesy line. The Prime Minister has made it abundantly clear that he expects us to continue to push the export of food and beverage. It is working, because the UK’s cheese exports to the world were £565 million in 2021. Exports to China were £3.9 million in 2021, which is an increase of 3.9%. Exports to Saudi Arabia are up 53% and exports to the Gulf in general are up 16.2%. This is a British success story, which we will sell to the world.
Mr Vickers, you had Question 1. You cannot have two bites of the cherry, as much as I am tempted! I know you want to talk about great Lancashire cheeses, but unfortunately you cannot. Let us move on to Craig Tracey.