Cheddar - A cheese for the ages

The story of Cheddar's success goes back more than 200 years and can be traced back to one family business in Somerset.

Did you know that despite a landscape filled with all manner of wonderful flavours, cheddar remains the world’s most popular cheese? It’s also the nation’s favourite over here in the UK, accounting for more than half of all cheese sales.

We’re talking big numbers, too. Recent government figures note that cheese production in the UK has increased steadily by 7% over the past five years, with 465,000 tonnes of British cheese produced in 2018 alone. Closer inspection puts demand for UK cheese overseas at more than £675m, with 90% of UK dairy exports to the US also being cheese. Top of the pile? Cheddar.

Even in February, when UK cheese exports numbered some 15,561 tonnes in a softening market, cheddar accounted for 39% of exports - almost 10 precent clear of its closest rival Mozzarella.
So, what’s the story of cheddar and how did it become a ‘cheese superpower’?

Although the bucolic Somerset region has been producing cheese since the 12th century, it wasn’t until the introduction of technology in the form of heavy, wooden cheese presses and a cooking stage in the 1700s that cheddar began to take on a more familiar portable form.

This formed part of a wider trend at the time that saw the English agricultural market begin to become shipping-orientated, with many products destined for London and beyond.

But when Daniel Barber began making cheese at his farm in Somerset back in 1833 he would have no idea that nearly 200 years later his family business would still be going, with cheddar becoming one of the most popular cheeses in the world, as CNN reports.