10 November 2021, 07:51 AM
  • We spend five minutes with Paul Heasman, purchasing coordinator at Rowcliffe, to learn the must-know trends and opportunities in British cheese
Talking cheese trends with Paul Heasman of Rowcliffe

What are the biggest trends shaping the British cheese sector today?

Covid has without doubt been the biggest reason for shifts in trends across all food sectors. Cheese has fared well due to its household penetration, but ideas also flourished for new and better ways to market and sell it; suddenly cheesemakers who did not have a decent website or rarely used social media were all over platforms such as Instagram and selling cheese online, being creative with ways to use them as eating habits changed throughout lockdown. By flagging the industry’s challenges, a new wave of digital shoppers has joined the British cheese fan base, keen to understand it better.

What sets fine British cheeses apart from their European counterparts?

In a word, people. The past 30 years or so has seen a resurgence of British Artisan Cheeses, forced in part by the demise of decent milk returns and higher exposure of Continental offerings. British farmers learned that the diverse terroir of the UK aligned to creative mixing of different breeds provides great conditions for making amazing cheeses; today’s shopper is spoilt for choice with artisan cheeses that far exceed the quality of the EU’s. Tim Rowcliffe once told me that nice people make nice cheese; he is right, and fortunately the UK cheese industry is abundant with these people whose passion and skill are evident in the superior quality artisanal cheeses produced. When championing our cheeses, we must do more to celebrate those that make it all possible. 

How significant will Christmas 2021 be for the British cheese industry?

People are now planning 2021 festivities around relaxed restrictions, which will of course involve a lot more food! This is good for the industry, especially the restaurant sector, and cheese will once again feature heavily. Cheesemakers will further maximise their new selling and marketing skills, and wholesalers and retailers will do their bit to ensure availability. Christmas is destined to bring renewed joy to many, which I hope includes our resilient British cheesemakers.