Cheap cheese imports from Ireland and New Zealand has forced UK dairy group Milk Link to cut the price it pays suppliers for milk from tomorrow (1 August).

Milk Link said imports from Ireland had climbed by a quarter in the first five months of 2009. Shipments from New Zealand have more than doubled, it said.

The group also cited an "unprecedented" level of promotions on branded cheese, pointing to over 50% of all sales now on promotion.

Chief executive Neil Kennedy said: "Trading conditions within the dairy market remain weak with, in particular, an unprecedented level of deep cut branded cheese promotions devaluing the market, and this, combined with the general economic downturn, means that returns continue to be under pressure."

Milk Link said its standard litre price for August will be around 23.25ppl.