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Artisan cheese company Shepherds Purse is working to support sheep milk producers through the coronavirus crisis with the launch of a new feta-style cheese called Fettle.
After speaking to farmers at the start of the outbreak, the company learned that the sheep milk industry was being disproportionately affected by the closure of the hospitality industry. Over the course of just a few days, their farmers had lost 20 out of their 22 processors.
Recognising the knock-on effects that this would have on the wider supply chain, Shepherds Purse has taken the bold step of supporting their farmers by increasing the amount of milk ordered weekly by 75%. As a result, the company brought forward the launch of its new format Fettle to May 4th.
“We’re determined to support our sheep milk farmers, and we’re really proud to have been able to bring this product to market in such a short time thanks to our team and our amazing partners,” says Caroline Bell, MD of Shepherds Purse. “The feedback has been great so far and we can’t wait to get it on to people’s plates.”
The company’s investment in its sheep milk farmers was an essential step in ensuring the supply chain survives the coronavirus crisis. “The whole chain is so important to the survival of British producers, and where we are asking retailers to support us, we must support our primary producers, too. Fettle has been one way that we have been able to do that.”
To ensure the success of this project, Caroline called on retailers and consumers for their support in getting Fettle onto customers’ plates.“The extent to which we can continue to buy extra milk from the farmers to help to ensure their survival through this crisis, will depend on how much of this new Fettle, and our other cheeses, customers can buy and enjoy.”
Simon Stott of Sheep Milk UK said the new product had been a lifeline for sheep milk producers, but he warned that the industry is still at risk. “Any help we can get at the moment is vital and this new Fettle product is a big lifeline for us. Some of our farmers have already had to dry off due to the massive drop in demand, so the future of the British sheep milk industry is still far from secure.”
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