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Administrator anticipates sale of Stilton producer

By Anne Bruce , 31-May-2011
Last updated on 01-Jun-2011 at 12:14 GMT

Administrator anticipates sale of Stilton producer

The administrator of Leicestershire cheese producer Quenby Hall Dairy says it expects to wrap up a deal for the firm shortly.

A spokesman for administrator SFP - where Simon and Daniel Plant are managing the sale process - told FoodManufacture.co.uk that news of a deal for the Hungarton stilton producer was expected soon, with negotiations having taken longer than expected.

The dairy, which ceased production shortly before going into administration on April 15, was one of only six in the UK permitted by law to make Stilton cheese under EU Protected Designation of Origin rules.

It had an annual turnover of around £1.8m and employed around 40 staff. It collapsed due to a £250,000 shortfall in cashflow as it expanded its production facilities, according to SFP.

After its decline the company said in a statement: "Market and trading conditions have been extremely difficult, exacerbated by over expansion. The general economic outlook, the sharp and continuing rise in milk prices and the difficulty in achieving suitable gross margins all contributed to the decision."

US listeria scare

Quenby also hit the headlines in America this month, after its cheeses were withdrawn from sale in retail stores due to a Listeria monocytogenes scare.

US distributor Schratter Foods recalled the affected cheese batches, although no illnesses have been reported so far in connection with potential contamination thus far.

Quenby Hall, in Hungarton, Leicester was England’s first purpose-built dairy, operating from 1759.

Stilton was granted EU Protected Designation of Origin status in 1996. This requires foods to be produced, processed and prepared exclusively within the specified geographic area using specialist know how.

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