29 May 2020, 10:39 AM
  • New selection box helps small producers reach customers
Waitrose becomes latest to support British artisan cheesemakers

Waitrose has revealed a “best of British” cheese box as part of efforts to support small artisan makers in the UK.

It comes as British producers are threatened with going out of business amidst the coronavirus crisis. With the hospitality industry closed overnight back in March, many cheesemakers were left with surplus stock and no route to market.

Waitrose’s box features five of its most popular British artisan cheeses, and aims to support its smallest suppliers that would normally have sold products at in-store cheese counters.

Dairy farmers were hit particularly hard during COVID-19, with some supposedly losing up to 90% of their business. It’s led to various campaigns urging the public to increase their intake of milk and cheese in support of British producers.

The Stilton Cheese Makers Association also encouraged consumers to buy British cheeses. Sales of Stilton alone plunged by 30 percent following the closure of restaurants as well as export markets. The decline in sales is said to have impacted 70 British farms, some of which go back five generations.

Waitrose’s new cheese box is one of several initiatives by supermarkets, independent retailers and fine food brands that are backing local cheesemakers. Tesco recently teamed up with Jamie Oliver to support two British farmhouse cheesemakers that previously relied on the foodservice industry and farmers’ markets.

Meanwhile, family-run Northern food retailer Booths launched a campaign back in April to encourage consumers to buy more British artisan cheese, whilst Shepherds Purse released a Feta-style cheese to support cheese milk producers.

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