The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes yesterday welcomed Defra Minister Victoria Prentis MP, with the visit focusing on the introduction of the new UK Geographical Indication schemes.
The Minister toured the Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience, stopping at the viewing gallery to watch the creamery’s master cheesemakers in action.
The Minister’s visit highlighted the introduction of the new UK Geographical Indication (GI) schemes, part of the UK government’s overarching strategy to protect traditional, local foods, giving unique products of origin, the recognition they deserve.
The Wensleydale Creamery was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission in December 2013 to protect the authenticity of its Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.
This status recognises the distinctive qualities of its famous cheese, created by the skill of its cheesemakers, using traditional techniques.
It recognises the geographical area in which the cheese is made.
Officials say the introduction of the new UK GI schemes will reaffirm true Yorkshire Wensleydale credentials and help shoppers differentiate it over other Wensleydale cheeses, made in other counties.
Research conducted for Defra found that consumers were interested in the story behind the products that they buy.
It also found that they were keen on purchasing regional foods to support local producers, and that they associate local produce with higher quality.
The Minister said: “It was fantastic to visit the Wensleydale Creamery, home to the original Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese, to learn more about its history as one of the major UK Geographical Indication producers.
“Sites such as the creamery are major providers of rural jobs, contributing millions of pounds to local economies across the UK. Everyone should try more of the UK’s excellent local and regional produce, and I hope to see more producers sign up to our new GI schemes, which protects products with special quality, provenance and heritage.”
Sandra Bell, Wensleydale Creamery marketing manager, said: “We welcome Minster Prentis’ visit and her support for protecting iconic British foods through the new GI schemes.
“Our creamy, crumbly iconic Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese is extremely important to us and something we are proud to protect. It is important for us and our loyal customers that it is handcrafted here in its rightful home of Wensleydale.
“The GI schemes and logos are essential to differentiating unique British brands on-shelf, ensuring we continue to protect the authentic heritage and provenance of handcrafted Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.”