Fine food connoisseurs will be relieved to hear that the award-winning Swaledale Cheese will be back on the shelves this spring following a national shortage of the product. The Swaledale Cheese Company – based in Richmond, in the Yorkshire Dales – had to bring a temporary halt to its cheese making at the end of last year when an expansion vessel in the water system burst and flooded their market town premises.
Hundreds of kilos of cheeses were damaged when the water – which brought about major structural damage – cut off the electricity supply causing temperature fluctuations in the main storage areas. Most of the cheese had to be thrown away leaving the company not only with a huge clean-up operation but also vastly depleted stocks.Mandy Reed, who set up the family business 20 years ago with her late husband, David, explains why this led to a four-month shortage of the popular Swaledale Cheese.“All our cheeses are made by hand and each variety needs carefully controlled temperatures, humidity levels and maturation times of at least two months. This process cannot be rushed so there is an unavoidable time delay between making the cheese and it being ready for the customer.
“We have worked flat out to get to the point where we are ready to release our first cheeses back on the market and we want to thank all our customers and suppliers for their patience and good wishes during this difficult period.”The recent shortage of cheese has been exacerbated by the product’s ever-increasing popularity, with demand regularly outstripping supply. Last year, the Swaledale Cheese Company made a £250K investment, enabling it to double its production facilities. However, the company still firmly resists any move towards mass production.“We are a small, family run business and are keen to maintain our independence within the industry,” said Mandy Reed. “All our cheeses are hand-made using traditional methods, which might mean less in quantity but does mean we can ensure quality.
”The company, which has won many prestigious national and international awards for its range of cheeses, currently produces 14 varieties, including Blue Swaledale, Swaledale with Chives and Garlic, and Swaledale with Old Peculier. It also has PDO status for both Swaledale Cheese and Swaledale Ewes Cheese and regularly supplies specialist cheese shops, delicatessens, independent retailers and cheese wholesalers throughout the UK, as well as selling through regional farmers’ markets.