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Please contact our news editor, Carolyn Moss, at email@example.com or call her on 01305 575155. Follow us on Twitter @BreadButterNews for updates.
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Specialist cheesemakers launch British Cheese Weekender
Britain’s specialist cheesemakers and retailers are urging the public to support small cheesemakers at the first British Cheese Weekender, on Friday 8th to Sunday 10th May 2020, as the coronavirus crisis threatens the previously thriving industry.
Led by the Specialist Cheesemakers Association (SCA), the Academy of Cheese and the Guild of Fine Food, and supported by cheese writer Patrick McGuigan, the initiative aims to “raise awareness of the crisis and help shoppers connect with local cheesemakers and indie retailers by providing online directories of the companies that can deliver or are safely open for business.”
The organisers say that artisan cheesemakers have lost “up to 90% of their business overnight when the hospitality sector was closed down” and are being forced to give away cheese for free and pour “thousands of litres of milk down the drain”. They point out that small producers have been left with maturing rooms full of cheeses that have limited shelf lives and at the same time, cows, sheep and goats are out to pasture and continue to produce milk every day.
“The future of Britain’s farmhouse and specialist cheesemakers is in the balance – we could see many of the country’s best cheeses lost forever as family farms and small cheesemaking businesses are pushed to the wall,” warned cheesemaker Catherine Mead, chair of the SCA, which represents over 200 small cheesemakers and is one of three organisations involved in the initiative.
“The national crisis has put untold pressure on our members. Restaurants, cafes and pubs, plus farmers markets and supermarket deli counters, closed overnight leaving cheese stores over filled, an abundance of spring milk with nowhere to go and only a few orders forthcoming.”
She added: “The good news is that it’s never been easier to buy good cheese, either online or direct. The specialist cheese industry has mobilised almost overnight, often teaming up with other small food producers, to get good food to people in their local areas.”
Commenting on the British Cheese Weekender, Tracey Colley, director of the Academy of Cheese, said: “We’re lining up a series of virtual masterclasses over the weekend, hosted by top cheese experts so that people can tune in and learn more about cheese as they taste along at home. We’ll be covering topics from how to be a cheese judge to drinks pairings and storage tips.”
Find out more by visiting academyofcheese.org/british-cheese-weekender/.
Lyme Bay Winery rebrands, gets A* rating
Lyme Bay Winery has rebranded to LBW Drinks and been awarded an A* rating from the British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRCGS).
The BRCGS certification is “regarded as the highest benchmark for best practice, quality and safety in the industry” and used by over 25,000 suppliers in more than 130 countries.
James Lambert, managing director, LBW Drinks commented: “Last year we were delighted to be awarded an A, so to improve on that with an A* rating is something we are very proud of. This ensures our customers have the reassurance of quality, consistency and traceability across the portfolio.”
The rebrand sees Lyme Bay Winery and Jack Ratt incorporated as brands under the umbrella of LBW Drinks. Established in 1993 as the Lyme Bay Cider Co, the business started making English wines in 2013 and is the UK’s leading producer of both mead and fruit wines.
James Lambert continued: “We do not sit still at LBW Drinks. We pride ourselves on our innovation in the drinks industry and have built a strong reputation as experts in flavour. The new name will not come as a surprise as we see ourselves as a constantly evolving business with big ambitions.
“In a few short years, we have helped to set the bar high for English still and sparkling wine, creating award-winning, internationally recognised wines. All our drinks are created with passion and commitment to the highest possible quality.”
LBW Drinks are offering discounts across select lines and free delivery for orders over £20 during the coronavirus pandemic.
Food Works SW innovation centre opens
The multi-million-pound Food Works SW centre has now opened for business to food and drink producers as North Somerset Council handed over control to The Food and Drink Forum as part of a 15-year contract.
Located at the Junction 21 Enterprise Zone in Weston-super-Mare, the project has been in development since North Somerset Council won funding from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The 12 business and development units are “now available for anyone finding themselves needing more space during this time or those businesses who have had to diversify and are in need of an area to develop their products ready for delivery.” during the coronavirus crisis.
The units at the centre are various sizes for start-ups or established businesses to rent and there will a team of staff on-site to support tenants with operational or technical business enquiries. The modern, food-grade premises meet the latest environmental health legislation and will allow tenants to “to fulfil their production requirements safe in the knowledge that maintenance costs will be minimised and that they can achieve BRC Grade AA with confidence.”
The Food and Drink Forum say they “appreciate that businesses still need to maintain high food management standards, train new staff in food safety, increase production capacity or examine the need to diversify into new markets and the team have useful resources that can help.” Their latest tips, resources and live support can be found by searching @foodworks_sw on social media or at www.foodworks-sw.co.uk
If you would like to find out more about the units at The Food Works SW email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01934 411272.
Liberation Group unveils tenant support package
The Liberation Group have announced a series of measures designed to help its tenants in the UK and Channel Islands cope with the enforced closure of pubs due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The support package includes the Group not collecting any rent for the duration of the closure to the maximum term of six months, cancelling 50% of the headline rent and a further bespoke package available on an individual based which could include “long term deferral of the outstanding rent subject to conditions.”
Christine Oxford, MD, Tenanted Pubs, The Liberation Group said: “Our industry has been heavily impacted by this enforced closure. Our top priority is the well-being of our tenants and subsequently their team members and customers. I’m confident that the support we’re offering today will help protect them during this challenging time.
“In terms of our tenanted business and our relationship with them, our absolute priority is to ensure our tenants not only survive this period of closure but that they come through this in a strong position to continue to trade with us in the future. With this in mind, we have agreed a significant package of support with the Liberation Group board.”
Wyke Farms and Westland Cheese announce partnership
Somerset-based Cheddar producer Wyke Farms have announced a working partnership with Westland Cheese (Westland Kaasspecialiteiten B.V.) in The Netherlands. For Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheese producer, this will increase distribution to Holland and Germany where their cheese was voted “tastiest” in the market.
The partnership was developed following a “market prioritisation study to identify key areas with the biggest potential”. Wyke Farms cite several reasons for selecting Westland Cheese as their chosen distributor including an effective marketing and selling function and their ability to reach the Dutch and German markets, proven over the past 80 years with the world-renowned Dutch Gouda ‘Old Amsterdam’ brand. The fact that Westland is a “strong family business and place value on corporate social responsibility” and also “have a sustainability programme that underpins all of their work” were also factors in the decision to work together.
In 2019, an independent consumer taste test was commissioned in three German cities, where Wyke Farms Cheddars were panelled against the competitive sets. The Wyke Cheddars were unanimously voted as the “best tasting” according to the producer. Listings have been secured by Westland for the brand with many more in progress.
“Quality produce from Great Britain has been very well received in European markets,” says Rich Clothier, third generation cheesemaker and managing director at Wyke Farms. He added, ”The time is right for us to increase our offering into these regions and have chosen the best partner to help us do this.”
“We are delighted to develop a strategic partnership with a family business that holds strong and similar values to our own,” says Henny Westland, third generation family member and managing director at Westland Cheese. She continues: “At an unprecedented time of change, these values, quality of products and way of doing business have a clear competitive advantage and point of difference to consumers in the market.”
Food safety experts supporting South West businesses
Simply Safer are offering South West businesses free advice and documentation to help them keep serving during the coronavirus crisis.
The food safety consultancy has advised food businesses that need to adapt to the new regulations affecting food preparation and delivery. These include helping Piglets Pantry, who normally make pies and sausage rolls for sports stadiums, to start up a home delivery service.
Ruth Baker of Simply Safer said ‘Ordinarily, we offer food safety support advice and training to businesses such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and butchers to increase and maintain their food hygiene ratings and operate under best practice. But whilst the hospitality businesses we support are closed during this lockdown, we are lucky to work with those food producers that want to keep their businesses moving forward.’
Email email@example.com or call 07941421809 for more details.
Fabulous Farm Shops supporting sector charity
The online farm shop directory Fabulous Farm Shops, have announced they will be donating the annual fees they receive to the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I).
Any farm shop which upgrades their listing on the directory between 5th April and 5th July 2020 will have their fee donated to the R.A.B.I and receive live links to their website and email address.
Go to www.fabulousfarmshops.co.uk for more details.
South WEST INITIATIVES
BH Fish launches in lockdown
A new fish delivery service, BH Fish, has been set up in Poole, Dorset, to support local fishermen and to encourage the local community to cook freshly caught local fish through the coronavirus crisis.
Created by local businessmen Jon Morgan of Dorset Cruises and Rob Milton of Othniel Oysters, local fishermen using sustainable low-impact methods catch wild fish in Poole Bay and Poole Harbour, as well as lobster crab, oysters, cockles and clams. Each day, the fisherman return to Poole Quay and their “Catch of the Day” is detailed on the website www.bhfish.co.uk and can be ordered and delivered. Deliveries are made on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, between 1pm and 5pm and collections can be made 7 days a week from The Crown Hotel, 23 Market Street, Poole, BH15 1NB.
John Morgan said: “On Good Friday we completed our first deliveries of 50 orders and we’re delighted to say we had 50 happy customers! The orders included lobster, crab, sea bass, sole, mullet and more, all caught locally.
“We’re already working with some local businesses and we’re inviting anyone else who wants to join forces with us to do so, during these times of uncertainty. We’ve already got Sean Cooper and Denise Wedlake from The Crown Hotel in Poole on hand to fillet fish and pre-cook lobsters & crabs, prior to delivery. Dorset wines from both English Oak and Furleigh Estate, as well as BH1 Gin and Conker Gin are also available to order and there are filleting knives, fishbone tweezers, and shellfish crackers, available to purchase from the website as well.
“We are adding easy to follow recipes, and the plan is to add demonstration videos, to teach preparation and cooking tips for your freshly caught seafood and we are going to add a forum to the site, so everyone can share their recipes and ideas.
“For us, a major part of our mission is to help the local community and we also want to ensure that the UK recovers from this pandemic, by working together and by trying to ensure that isolation can be more bearable.”
The acclaimed Dorset pudding producer is launching a gluten-free hub and offering a delivery and mail-order service along with other producers offering gluten-free products.
Founder Christine said: “I have set up a gluten-free hub in Sturminster Newton. I noticed that so many people on a gluten-free diet were finding it difficult to get products and wanted to help, so I set up this hub, working with other small producers In Dorset and further afield.
The hub will not only help customers to get advice and find produce, but will also help small producers. I thought that we are all in this together, so let’s help each other. I have been a coeliac for over 40 years, and as a food producer too I’m keen to help where I can.”
Delivery will be free within a five-mile radius of Sturminster Newton and then £5 to other parts of Dorset. Products will include sweet and savoury dishes, bread and treats. Visit www.christinesglutenfreehub.co.uk/menu
Several members of the Cotswold Taste co-operative have acted quickly to reach more customers online during the coronavirus lockdown. Artisan producers like chocolate maker Costello+Hellerstein, charcuterie company SaltPig Curing and cheese specialist The Old Cheese Room have all set up or expanded their online shops to keep their businesses afloat after pandemic restrictions have wiped out selling at markets and wholesale.
Cotswold Taste’s executive chair Nick Waloff says supporting local food and drink producers has never been more important. “There is clearly a renewed focus on our local food and drink producers, farm shops and markets,” he said.
Cotswold Taste is posting a list of all its members offering online services on its website and its Twitter feed. For full details, visit www.cotswoldtaste.co.uk.
Marshfield Ice Cream
Wiltshire’s Marshfield Ice Cream has launched a new online shop to support its “Deliver Moo” home delivery service. Select from up to 25 flavours in 1 or 4-litre tubs and get them delivered to your house in selected BA, GL, SN and BS postcodes. Minimum order is £18. Visit marshfield-icecream.squarespace.com.
Lots of independent businesses in the Cornish town are adapting to survive and thrive through the coronavirus crisis. These include:
Sprout Health Foods (sprouthealth.co.uk), which has launched a new online click and collect service by teaming up with another local operator ‘El Huichol’ Mexican street food van to deliver in town and the surrounding areas. www.elhuichol.co.uk.
The Jam Jar Café is creating boxes of its homemade gluten-free cakes and sausage rolls to deliver direct to doorsteps every week. www.jamjar.cafe.
FreshPoint Local is getting its fresh local produce boxes to households with 75 bespoke order slots per day. freshpointlocal.co.uk
Other Newquay-based businesses that are delivering to front doors include Zaman’s Restaurant, whose team has also been out delivering free meals to NHS staff and has started posting online recipes, Morris Pasties, and Francine’s Fish and Chips. El Huichol (Mexican street food van) is delivering takeaways, as is the Portuguese Restaurant and Ganesha Thai Takeaway and Restaurant.
Newquay’s Brownie Maid is taking orders for its brownies and chocolate gifts for delivery across the UK. www.thebrowniemaid.co.uk
WAX Newquay is delivering choices from its hearty menu as well as running a ‘contactless collect’ service from WAX Watergate Bay. waxnewquay.co.uk
“Stylish speakeasy” Tom Thumb is holding digital cocktail masterclasses online www.tom-thumb.co.uk and the owner of Wild Wine School is offering free and insightful weekly wine training sessions suitable for all levels of experience via video conferencing platform, Zoom. wildwineschool.co.uk
Carla Jones, Newquay Business Improvement District (BID) manager, said: “What some of the town’s businesses are doing during this time is truly remarkable. We are really proud to be part of such a vibrant, resilient network and we are constantly amazed at the creativity, innovation and spirit continually demonstrated.
“Knowing that many businesses will be concerned about the impact that these challenging circumstances will have on their businesses and also the welfare of staff, both physically and financially, the BID website is being updated regularly with advice and information as soon as we have it.
Henk de Villiers Ferriera’s Treviskers restaurant, located at Treviskers Garden Centre near Padstow, has become The Chef’s Larder, a fresh produce shop for local residents and chefs.
The Chefs Larder now sells home-made soups, sirloin, rib-eye and fillet steaks, cured bacon, pork sausages, lobsters, fish cakes and fish goujons alongside local eggs, flour, butter and milk.
Chef Henk’s ‘Very Nice Chips’ will also be served from the shop along with Newlyn fish and he will be making up to 120 portions a day.
Chef Henk said: “I turned Treviskers Kitchen into a food shop following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Having had to furlough 20 of my staff I am now a greengrocer, shopkeeper, butcher and fish fryer!”
The Truckle Cheese Company
The Truckle Cheese Company has donated £5000 worth of cheese to frontline NHS staff, constabulary and a care home in Gloucestershire.
It’s also offering a 20% discount for NHS staff working on the frontline and rolled out donations in Gloucestershire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey and London.
Distributor Adrian Nichols said: “Even in financially challenging times, it’s not just about sales and orders – it’s about getting food out to the wider community.
“We have loyal customers across the country, many of them in Cheltenham and Gloucester, and we’re proud to be making a difference by keeping people sustained where others can’t, both locally in and beyond Worcestershire…
“Through necessity, customers are migrating to online shopping at the moment, and with shows and events unlikely to come back until autumn at the earliest, this is the business model we will need to rely on for the foreseeable future.”
For current offers from The Truckle Cheese Company visit www.trucklecheese.co.uk/marchapril-special-cheddar-cheese-offers.
Wickwar Wessex Pub Company
Wickwar Wessex, the independent pub company based in the village of Wickwar in Gloucestershire, has launched a free meal programme to support its local community.
The voluntary initiative sees The Old Badger Pub in Eastington team up with a local coronavirus charity to offer free food to the over-70s and vulnerable people in the village of Eastington and surrounding areas. Over 70 meals were delivered in the first week with another 100 planned for next week. Members of the public can phone the pub and nominate someone who would benefit from a meal which is then delivered to the customer the following afternoon.
Ian Frost, commercial director for Wickwar Wessex Pub Company says, “In these unprecedented times, it’s fantastic that we are able to utilise one of our pubs to support The Eastington Coronavirus Charity. The local community is at the heart of everything we do as a business, so we’re delighted to help some of the elderly or more vulnerable members of the community in this way”.
FOOD & DRINK NEWS
Plant-based biscotti and compostable packaging
The Great British Biscotti Co are launching two new plant-based and gluten-free lines and introducing compostable packaging across its entire twin-pack range.
The Dorset-based producers are using coconut oil and a “secret flour blend” for their new Dark Belgian Chocolate & Cranberries & Almond, and Hazelnut & Orange flavours.
Founder Paul said: “As an ambitious specialist bakery in Dorset, we’re proud to respond to the growing concerns of deserving food minorities, (vegans and coeliacs) whose calls for more tailored recipe decks should never result in having to settle for underwhelming flavours and textures. As for compostable packaging, we believe everyone has a responsibility to reduce their litter trail and leave the planet as they found it.”
For more details go to greatbritishbiscotti.co.uk.