Why we should eat stilton all year, not just at Christmas
A cheesemaker in Leicestershire is encouraging seasonal stilton lovers to buy at least one more wedge of the cheese outside of Christmas to build back after a tough period.
Supermarket shelves are stacked with stilton in December, but often short at other times.
Fewer customers are buying stilton while inflation has been higher in 2022/23, but issues are not entirely driven by the cost of living alone. International trade and diet are also factors.
Sales across the industry have fallen by 9% over seven years equating to 12,000t according to Bill Mathieson, Managing Director at Long Clawson Dairy in Leicestershire.
He said: “I’ve never known a time like the last 2 years. We went through a period of having 45% inflation coming through the business. For our farmers, input costs remain incredibly high.”
“Every crisis we’ve seen for the last twenty years, because stilton is a discretionary item, a bit of a treat, you see a drop off. When you come through sales pick up again.”
“This Christmas is essential for us,” said Bill.
Long Clawson is aiming to grow the stilton industry by asking Brits to buy just one more piece of stilton than usual in 2024.
“We should celebrate stilton but not only at Christmas. Try and have stilton across the year and you’ll be supporting British farmers,” said Bill.
Long Clawson Dairy makes 3000 cheese every day and 60% of it’s sales are made in the 3 months before Christmas.
It’s one of only six stilton cheesemakers in Britain, all of which are in the East Midlands.
Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) means stilton can only be made in the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to strict rules and recipes. PDO is the same status that applies to Champagne in France and Parma Ham in Italy.
Long Clawson is a co-operative owned dairy meaning local farmers always have a stake in the stilton industry.