Wensleydale Dairy Products is aiming to join a string of British Cheese producers that have secured European protected name status for their cheeses.
The company, which is based in Hawes, north Yorkshire, is in discussions with Food from Britain and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in a bid to gain protected designation of origin (PDO) status for 'Real Yorkshire Wensleydale' cheese.
The application will not, however, seek PDO status for use of the name 'Wensleydale' alone, stressed a spokesman, who admitted that the company had gone for a more specific name in order to get a “quick win”.
After an application is officially submitted this autumn, there will be a 12-week consultation in the UK before it heads to the European Commission for the next stage of the approval process.
If the bid is successful, Real Yorkshire Wensleydale will join a host of regional UK cheeses that have achieved protected name status in recent years, including Beacon Fell traditional Lancashire cheese, Buxton blue, Dovedale cheese, Exmoor Blue cheese, Single Gloucester and West Country farmhouse Cheddar cheese.
In order to qualify for PDO status, products must be produced, processed and prepared in the geographical area in question.
Wensleydale Dairy Products md David Hartley said: “The livelihoods of more than 190 creamery workers and 36 farms in Wensleydale depend on the creamery and we believe that Real Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese contributes more than £8M to the local economy. By putting forward our submission for PDO status we are protecting the future prosperity of Wensleydale and elevating our product above those manufacturers outside the region.”
Made to a traditional recipe using milk from 36 local farms, the company's hand-crafted and cloth-bound cheeses are available as traditional, blue, smoked and mature varieties.
Alice Amsden, production director, said: "The wild flowers, herbs and grasses that grow in Wensleydale give the milk, and hence the cheese, its unique flavour. Much of the area is designated as one of environmental sensitivity where the use of artificial fertilisers and chemicals is restricted.”