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The importance of Christmas for the food industry, including the cheese industry, cannot be underestimated. Christmas is the magic financial dust that makes our businesses glow in the new year.
In December, cheese sales go through the roof and it seems that absolutely everybody in the country, including those who do not consume cheese during the rest of the year, all of a sudden buy cheese! It’s a tremendous time for business and it’s a great time for acquiring new customers.
This year, however, Christmas is more vital than ever – not only because it is important to us all financially, but also because we cheese retailers have the power to send waves of positive change through certain layers of our society. Being in direct contact with cheese producers and its final consumer, we are in a unique position to have a positive effect on the lives of both groups.
As we all know, small artisan producers of cheese in Britain and abroad were hit really hard during the pandemic last year. To help them recover and thrive, we need to continue to champion these small producers, especially because they do not have marketing budgets like the big companies.
Cheese retailers are their de facto marketing force and when we support them, we help to save them and the whole artisan and farmhouse cheese industry.
It is especially important to continue to support our British cheesemakers by highlighting their products in various and creative ways. We must continue telling the stories behind their cheeses, sampling them out to our customers, creating special offers and various gift sets featuring British cheeses, as well as other locally and nationally produced artisan foods.
From years of working in cheese retail and talking to my customers, I know that good cheese is not only a delicious indulgence for them; it also has the power to boost their morale, bring them closer together with their nearest and dearest and, as a result, improve their mental health.
As a nation we have been through some very tough times during the last 18 months, and we all need not only a bit of respite and stability, but we could also do with some regular spikes of positivity and happiness. So when we sell our wonderful and scrumptious cheeses this festive season, we will be playing an important role in improving our customers’ lives!
If I were asked about ways of making this Christmas season even more successful and supportive, I would probably say that nothing beats “preparation, preparation, preparation”. Early preparations and making the process streamlined are the key to surviving the mad retail rush of Christmas and securing financial success. Encouraging our customers to be organised and place their Christmas orders early will make lives easier for both parties. And speaking of easy, in my experience, people do not like to be bamboozled by too many choices, so presenting them with fewer well-thought-out choices is better than giving them an infinite number of options of various cheese selections and gifts. All people really want is comfort, a bit of indulgence and none of the stress.
I have to confess, however, that I believe that the ultimate key to our success this Christmas and beyond is making our businesses a force for good. When every business, however small, has a cause that they support and champion, a compound effect will bring vital changes to our local communities and our society overall.
For instance, at The Cheese Lady we have decided that this year we will be supporting the Mental Health Foundation. Mental health is a cause that is very close to my heart so to support the important work of the Mental Health Foundation we will be donating a percentage of all our sales to the charity. My aim is to highlight the importance of mental health and ways of keeping it strong. I am optimistic that my small business can make a valued difference. I hope that you’ll join me in my mission to enjoy good cheese and do good at the same time. Christmas is without a shadow of a doubt the most important season of the year for the food industry, including the cheese industry.