Posted: 06/04/2022

Swaledale moves to cancel PDO after relocating production

The company that makes Swaledale, one of Britain’s oldest cheeses, has applied to cancel the PDO that protects it, after the business was forced to move from the designated area where the cheese must be made.

The Swaledale Cheese Company, which previously made the crumbly cheese in Richmond, North Yorkshire, moved out of the designated area of Swaledale to nearby Leyburn earlier this year, meaning it no longer met the requirements set out in the PDO.

As the only producer of the cheese, the company has applied to Defra for its protected status to be cancelled with production continuing as a brand. Owner Richard Darbishire told FFD that once the PDO was cancelled, he planned to apply for PGI status, which is less restrictive. However, following Brexit, this would first involve securing protection under the new UK GI scheme, before applying to the EU.

“We bought the company from administration and had a five-year lease on the Richmond premises, but there was a break clause and we were forced to move,” he explained.

Darbishire and co-owner Bengt Odner bought the Swaledale Cheese Company from liquidation in 2019. The business was first set up by the Reed family in 1987, who revived production of Swaledale cheese, which dates back to the middle ages.

There are two PDOs covering cows’ and ewes’ milk versions of the crumbly cheese, although only the cows’ milk cheese is currently made.

“We’re looking at bringing back the sheep’s milk cheese, and also a goats’ milk version,” said Darbishire.

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