Written by Ruth Raskin, Our Cheese Care Manager.
Selling cheese, made by small, artisan producers, who work with great skill, dedication and enthusiasm, has always been both a privilege and a pleasure. Now it feels like a responsibility too.
Until the country changed unrecognisably just a couple of weeks ago, the British cheese industry was in hale and hearty health. After decades in the doldrums, the resurgence that has taken place in British cheese over the past thirty years has been an absolute joy to be a part of. Now our cheesemakers are in crisis. We know that this is true for so many industries, ours is not alone in this, but what is perhaps slightly different in this instance, is that people still need and want the products that they make, they’re just not sure how to get hold of them.
Very few small scale cheesemakers sell to supermarkets or direct to the public. Most send their goods to cafés and restaurants and to shops and wholesalers like us. With the disappearance of the café and restaurant trade, they find themselves with stores full of cheese and very few customers. The hard cheese will sit patiently on the shelves for a while, but the loss of income is still devastating. For the makers of soft cheese, the situation is still worse. The cheese is perfect right now, and there are cheeses ripening which will be in peak condition next week and the week after. If there are not enough customers, they will be forced to throw it all away. Many are giving away as much as they can, but without the systems already in place, this is much harder to do than it sounds.
Many of the cheesemakers with whom we work are also farmers. Their animals still need to be fed, housed and milked. If they don’t, the milk will dry up, along with their financial futures. So right now they are busy tending to their animals and making cheese that they hope people will want to buy.
While people are flocking to the supermarkets in droves, many smaller independent shops are struggling. They are fast innovating to find new ways to get food to their customers, and we ask sincerely that you consider your local, independent producers and shops at this time.
Delivering food to people in their own homes has been a specialty of ours for over twenty years. We would like to thank all of you that have placed orders with us at this time. It is a great way to keep our British cheese industry alive, while providing yourself with nutritious, wholesome and comforting food. And it’s not just about the cheese. We have our own bakery which makes our crackers, and over the years we have built up a community of suppliers whom we know and trust to provide us with butter, charcuterie, coffee, chocolate, juice, oils and vinegars, in short many of the things which may ease the strain of staying home. We have also responded to the other items for which our customers are searching by adding pasta, flour and yeast to our range.
We are glad to be a part of feeding the nation and hope that you will join us in saluting the cheesemakers whose tireless work has made the British cheese community what it is today.
Click Here to see the steps we are taking to help our customers, suppliers and staff at this time.