Paul, who is now stepping down as chairman of the event, formerly the Nantwich Cheese Show, which he has presided over for the past six years and is held every year in Nantwich, Cheshire, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “There has got to be a bit of common sense and integrity in the coming months.”
He said dairy farmers should get a fair return for their milk, but equally higher prices had to be passed down the supply chain by cheese producers.
“High street coffee chains are all selling milk with a bit of coffee in it and people are willing to pay huge amounts of money for that.”
Struggle with supplies
In addition, he said he was concerned that some cheese producers could struggle with supplies because some milk suppliers prioritised other categories over cheese. “There is a shortage of milk [for cheese] and that is going to have an impact.”
What Paul called “a cocktail of issues” was putting many cheese producers under pressure. “Cheese is a very risky game and my concern is there’s a potential of losing some.”
That said, he claimed premium cheese offered a major route for milk suppliers to secure a great return.
Regional artisan producers
Current consumer trends pointed to key opportunities for smaller, regional artisan producers, he added.
“The biggest change I have seen in the past few years is the big are getting bigger, but that creates a vacuum for the small-to-medium-sized players to step into. The quality market is in big growth.”
Retailers had rationalised cheese ranges in recent years, reducing choice, he said. “But it’s coming back now and people will demand choice.”
- Long Clawson Dairy’s Claxstone Smooth Blue Cheese won the Supreme Award at the International Cheese Awards, held at the end of last month in Nantwich, Cheshire.