Import issues and local demand boost Highland Fine Cheeses’ sales
Highland Fine Cheeses has seen a 25% increase in sales, which it says has been helped by disruption to imported cheeses caused by Brexit and growing demand for local food.
The Tain-based cheesemaker, which supplies delis, farm shops and supermarkets including M&S and Waitrose, saw sales rise to £1.9m in the year to May, an increase of around 25% on the year before.
Owner Rory Stone said the business had seen sales jump partly because of disruption to the flow of Continental cheeses, caused by delays at customs, shortages of HGV drivers and the introduction of full customs declarations for imported goods in January.
“There have been gaps on the shelves and buyers are looking for more British cheeses to offset concerns about imported cheeses,” he said. “Shoppers also want to support British companies, following Covid.”
He added that the price of some French and Italian cheeses had increased, making British cheeses more competitive.
However, the cheesemaker sounded a note of caution, explaining how huge increases in the cost of milk, energy and labour were dampening the benefits of growth.
“A 25% increase looks good on paper, but I’ve seen milk prices increase by nearly 50%,” he said. “We implemented a price increase in February, but it looks like we will have to bring in another soon.”
The price of milk continues to surge on the back of huge hikes in feed, fertiliser and energy costs with major processors announcing they will pay farmers above 46p/litre from 1st July, up from around 32p/litre at the same time last year.