Posted: 22/05/2019

Alex James and White Lake split up as rock star revamps range

Musician-turned-cheese-entrepreneur Alex James has parted ways with one of the key artisan producers behind his British cheese range, a year after it was relaunched with Ocado.

Four out of the six cheeses curated by the Blur bassist are now no longer in production, after Somerset-based White Lake Cheese stopped making Goddess, Farleigh Wallop, Little Wallop and Glastonbury brie under licence. 

The cheeses were numbered from 3-6 under the Alex James Great British Cheeseboard range, which was launched in May and dubbed the “UK’s first branded British cheeseboard” when it launched. 

White Lake is now making the cheeses under its own brand with new names: Solstice (Goddess), Stitch in Thyme (Farleigh Wallop) and Eve (Little Wallop). 

According to cheesemaker Roger Longman, the split came about after he tried to put prices up by 10% to compensate for a drop in sales. “It started well, but really faded dramatically,” he said. “The original deal was we would be selling 300 of each type of cheese, but by January we were only selling 40. We said the only way we can do it is if we have a price increase to cover the increased costs of running such small batches.”

The two other cheeses in the range – No 1 Cheddar, made by Barber’s, and No 2 Blue Monday, made by Shepherd’s Purse – are still in production. 

Alex James told FFD that he is working on a new range of Continental cheeses from European cheesemakers, which would launch with Ocado shortly, before being made available to delis via Rowcliffe later in the year. 

The new range includes: The Universal (a hard cheese), Blu (blue), Concorde (soft white), Planet Claire (washed rind) and Goat Log.

“It was not an easy decision to part ways [with White Lake] after so many years working together but change is an inevitable part of running a business,” said James. “White Lake are among the best in the world at what they do but with the increased demands of a new range in the works, we needed to take another look at how best to meet our requirements.” 

Blur bassist Alex James first launched a range of artisan cheeses, including Goddess and Little Wallop, with cheese writer Juliet Harbutt in 2006.

This story appeared in the May issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

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