Supermarket sales for cheese soared in the lead-up to Valentine's Day this year, according to analysis by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development board (AHDB) on Kantar data.

According to Kantar, the AHDB said, an extra 1.2 million kg of cheese was sold in the two weeks ending February 22, compared to the same period in 2020 – a rise of 6.8%.

Cheddar led the charge, taking a quarter of the growth, followed by speciality and continental cheese at 24% and British regionals making up 23% of the volume growth.

Fresh cream also had a strong Valentine’s Day with volumes up 7.3% ,during the two weeks, with more couples indulging in desserts. Butter was also up 5.6% and milk rose 0.4%, according to AHDB.

AHDB senior retail insight manager, Kim Heath said: “A lockdown-free Valentine’s Day this year gave couples the option to eat-out after being limited to in-home celebrations last year.

"Also, with many concerned about money, there’s a possibility that some couples either chose not to celebrate or opted for a cheaper option such as a takeaway.

“As a result of these factors, retail sales were unable to match 2021’s biggest ever Valentine’s for food. However, when we compare it to 2020, a pre-Covid-19 year, this year’s celebrations provided a fantastic boost for the dairy retail sector, in particular cheese.

“While we know that cheese is a popular choice for celebrations, we believe that consumers wanting to treat themselves, coupled with strong retail advertising on cheese and sharing boards, will have supported this impressive performance.”

Latest data also shows that Valentine’s Day provided a boost for continental meat, which saw a 33% growth in retail volumes, as well as burgers and grills, which were up 6.7% compared to the same period in 2020, the AHDB noted.

Pork was the only red meat to see growth during the event, with total pig meat up 1.8% verses pre-Covid-19 – but both beef and lamb retail volumes were down, the board concluded.