Express. Home of the Daily and Sunday Express. HOME News Royal Showbiz & TV Sport Comment Finance Travel Entertainment Life & Style UK Politics Royal US World Science Weather Weird History Nature Sunday InYourArea Cheddar, Red Leicester and Wensleydale may disappear off the shelves as Cheesemakers are being forced to sell their goods abroad to make more cash. 22:05, Fri, Sep 22, 2023 | UPDATED: 22:06, Fri, Sep 22, 2023
Vanishing? UK cheesemakers may sell abroad (Image: Getty)
Cheesemakers, who have been squeezed until the “pips squeak” during the cost-of-living crisis, are being forced to sell their goods abroad to make more cash.
Favourites such as Cheddar, Red Leicester and Wensleydale may disappear off the shelves in the coming months as a result.
John Allen, director of Kite Consulting, said cheesemakers have found themselves in a “perfect storm” of challenges.
Some have lost retail contracts or face weak demand after inflationary price increases, high stocks after strong milk volumes and prices, plus the higher cost of borrowing.
Mr Allen said: “Many cheesemakers are in a weak negotiating position, and up against retailers battling with their own competitive pressures and who have re-tendered for significant quantities of business.”
Many are now on the brink financially, he added, so it is “no surprise that some would generally rather sell abroad than sell in the UK”. He urged supermarkets to address the low returns to cheesemakers by showing “a greater understanding of how the supply chain works”.
Retailers may be tempted “to have little mercy, given the ample supply situation and that the cost-of-living crisis also hurts them”, he said. “But it is not in their longer-term interest to squeeze UK cheesemakers until the pips squeak.”
Without support, supermarkets would find themselves with fewer cheesemakers, fewer farmers supplying them, less milk and less cheese for the UK market.
Cheese makers are now on the brink financially (Image: Getty)
Mr Allen added: “UK retailers need a strong, viable UK-based cheese value chain who want to supply them.”
Oli Smith, 36, of The Bristol Cheesemonger, said: “The dairy industry has had massive cost increases chiefly due to Brexit and the Ukraine war. At some point producers will have to pass on more of the costs to remain viable.”
Andrew Opie, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers understand how tough it is for businesses, source the majority of food from the UK and know they need to pay a sustainable price to farmers and manufacturers. But they face extra costs and aim to limit price rises.”
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Greg makes changes to keep artisan taste intact Cheesemonger Greg Parsons finds himself in a tricky situation. He wants to protect his customers from price increases but needs to keep his business afloat during the cost-of-living crisis.
The 53-year-old, who co-owns Sharpham Dairy in Topsham, Devon, with his wife, said he has seen prices rise “dramatically” and his overheads are through the roof.
But he has tried to “swiftly implement positive changes” to avoid collapse.
“At Sharpham, we make soft and semi-hard cheeses from goats’, cows’ and sheep’s milk. There’s no substitute for the authenticity of artisan cheeses and we hope to emerge from this with that cherished heritage intact. ”
Speciality cheeses are expensive to make by their nature, Mr Parsons, pictured left, said, and there’s “much less yield of goats’ and sheeps’ milk compared with cows’ milk”. They are being hit hard by inflationary pressures.
He added: “It’s hard not to put the price of our cheese up. We are placing more emphasis on brand loyalty, being exceptional, as efficient as possible and defining our unique selling point.”
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