Richmond cheesemakers welcome online lockdown sales boost

Richard Darbishire.

Richmond-based Swaledale Cheese say they remain confident about future business growth despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK’s only producer of Swaledale cheese was acquired from the liquidators a year ago by three Yorkshire business entrepreneurs,

Production director Richard Darbishire said the company saw a significant jump in online sales during the first lockdown which more than compensated for business lost to their customers in the hospitality sector.

“In addition, we are in discussion with two national retailers which I am confident will lead to further listings.

“We are also looking to recruit two people under the Government’s Kickstart initiative aimed at providing work placements for unemployed youngsters.

“As this is a small business, the successful candidates will be involved in all aspects of production and packing, learn new skills and get a thorough introduction to cheese-making.”

In another boost for Swaledale Cheese, it has been granted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for its products.

In addition, the business is in the final stages of qualifying for Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) – a safety certification scheme which helps regional food and drink producers get their products in front of national buyers.

Specifically, the company is working towards accreditation under the SALSA plus Cheese audit which includes requirements from the Specialist Cheesemakers Association (SCA).

“Qualifying for the SALSA plus Cheese standard will bring great benefits to the business and help us get the great taste of this historic cheese in front of more key buyers across the food industry,” added Richard.

The origins of Swaledale Cheese can be traced back to the 11th century when the cheese was made by Cistercian monks.

When the monasteries were disbanded during the reign of Henry V111, the cheese continued to be made by local farmers and now Swaledale Cheese is following in their footsteps and using the same traditional recipe.