Cheese firm halts production: 70 jobs at risk

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cricketer Farm, based in Somerset village of Nether Stowey, has made cheese since the 1940s
Cricketer Farm, based in Somerset village of Nether Stowey, has made cheese since the 1940s

Related tags: Milk

Somerset cheese producer Cricketer Farm is set to halt production next year or before, threatening about 70 jobs.  

The company, based in the Somerset village of Nether Stowey, has announced plans to cease all operations in 2016 amid what it described as “turmoil”​ in the dairy industry.

Cricketer Farm has made cheese since the 1940s, supplied supermarkets and recently built up its own brand called Cheeky Cow.

A key factor behind the decision was the loss of a contract to an unnamed major customer, the firm said in a statement.

A global oversupply of milk products, devaluation of UK exports, market volatility and uncertainty in the UK dairy market had also been taken into account.

 ‘Significant financial losses’

Cricketer Farm at a glance

  • Based in the Somerset village of Nether Stowey
  • About 70 jobs believed to be at risk
  • The company has made cheese since the 1940s

“This makes it impossible for a business like Cricketer Farm to look ahead with confidence and having suffered significant financial losses over the last financial year, it is not viable to continue with such uncertainty,”​ it said.

“The Cricketer Farm directors are forced into this conclusion as they see no realistic prospect of cheese prices being at sufficient level to provide satisfactory returns to both processor and farmers.”

Asked when production would stop, md Greg Parsons said: “All is subject to consultation but are proposing to continue packing operations until the end of January, but potentially stop cheesemaking earlier.”

Somerset county councillor John Edney, who represents the area, said the announcement had come as a “complete shock”​ to members of the village.

‘Matter of great distress’ ​ 

“It’s a matter of great distress for the community of Nether Stowey with about 70 jobs that are likely to go. That’s quite a big blow to a smallish rural community,”​ he said.

“It’s been going 50 or 60 years, it’s the end of a long era in the life of the village.”

Following a staff announcement on Monday (August 25), an employee said: “It’s a bit of a shock. It’s a small village so it’s had quite a bit of impact on the community.”

A National Farmers Union spokesman for the south west said the proposed closure would also affect about 35 local farms that supplied Cricketer Farm.

“It’s unwelcome and very sad news for those affected,”​ he said. “People are going to be losing their jobs so worrying times for them and worrying times for farmers.”

Cricketer Farm’s statement said its team had tried to develop added value opportunities and made efforts to penetrate foodservice and export sectors in recent years.

But it said “they have been unable to grow these areas quickly enough to ensure a sustainable future”.

Verdict from National Farmers Union

"People are going to be losing their jobs so worrying times for them and worrying times for farmers.”

  • Spokesman for the south west at National Farmers Union 

Related topics: Dairy-based ingredients, Dairy

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