Farmers who produce goats' cheese have been cashing in on the product's new-found popularity, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which show that the number of goats on UK farms has soared.
There were an estimated 12,500 additional goats on British farms in 2003 compared with three years before. The National Farmers Union, which estimates the market to be worth £13.7m, said that larger producers with guaranteed sales to supermarkets had seen annual productivity grow by 20%.
Supermarket chain Tesco, which now stocks 15 goats' cheeses, said that demand had rocketed by 52% in the past three years. It reckoned that the shift in demand from the gourmet to the mass market was due to a growing intolerance to lactose in cows' milk, more trips to Europe (where goats' cheese is popular), its use by celebrity chefs and in highly rated restaurants, and the public's desire to try different foods.