Ireland ranks third worldwide among the countries with the highest production of cheese per capita, a new report has shown.
With 56.7kg per person, Ireland is outranked only by Denmark (78kg per person) and New Zealand (76.1kg per person).
Meanwhile, the Netherlands with 54.2kg per person, and Cyprus with 42kg per person come in fourth and fifth place.
In absolute terms, Ireland ranks 19th worldwide having produced 287,000 metric tonnes of cheese in 2021.
Moreover, Ireland ranks second in the EU among countries with the highest cheese production growth over the past five years. Ireland recorded a 39% growth in cheese production from 2016 to 2021.
These findings are compiled in a new report by international food magazine Chef's Pencil, using the latest available cheese production figures, from 2021.
Denmark, which produces a total of 455,000 metric tonnes of cheese per year, exports 75% of the food they produce, including cheese.
According to Chef's Pencil, with roughly 61% of Denmark being agricultural land, the country is one of the top milk producers in Europe, with half of that milk being used to make cheese, which is exported to around 150 countries.
"Denmark is also the sole producer of Danablu - or Danish Blue Cheese - Danbo cheese, and Esrom cheese – these varieties have been PGI-marked by the EU, which means they’ve been granted protected geographical status and can’t be produced anywhere else," Chef's Pencil said.
There is also an "ever-increasing demand" for New Zealand cheeses, such as Mahoe Farmhouse, Mercer, Karikaas, and Meyer.
"New Zealand is renowned for its pasture-based dairies and the fresh, clean flavour of its cheese.
"Production and exports of cheese rose sharply in the 90s, as well as the first part of the 2010s, though it slowed down a bit in the past few years from its 2017 peak."
Ireland produces 287,000 metric tonnes of cheese every year and with a population of roughly five million, that equates to around 56.7kg per person, Chef's Pencil said in its report.
"For the past five years, Ireland has recorded the second highest cheese production growth rate in the EU, up 39%, only second to Cyprus.
"This is almost five times higher than the growth rate for the EU as a whole."
Irish farmhouse cheese is "incredibly popular, and there are currently 45 farmhouse cheesemakers across the country", according to the report.
"Farmhouse cheese is basically produced from the milk produced on the same farm where the cheese is made."