Exports of cheese from the UK surpassed the £615m mark last year – rising 23% from 2016, according to the latest figures from HMRC.

The data shows volumes of exported cheese rose by 5% from the previous year – reaching just over 170,000 tonnes. While cheddar continues to dominate exports, fresh cheeses – and in particular mozzarella – saw strong export growth in the year.

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 Shipments to Germany have been declining, and been replaced by increased sales to Denmark and Poland.

Figures 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.

“The 2017 data shows another strong year of growth for our cheese exports,” she added. “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.

There was more positive news for the industry at the Global Dairy Trade event which recorded an overall price index up 2.7% and the first increase since the February sale. According to a report from AHDB Dairy, all products on offer had positive changes in price index.

Most product price indexes increased by more than the 2.7% average, which was tempered by a relatively modest 0.9% increase in the Whole Milk Powder (WMP) price index.

As WMP accounts for a little over half of product sold, this has a heavy weighting on the overall result. The WMP result was likely influenced by Fonterra announcing that it was increasing its WMP offer volumes over the next 12 months by another 4000 tonnes.