Rory Stewart MP visited Appleby Creamery recently, to see exactly how their cheese is made, and learn all about their forthcoming expansion.
The creamery, established in 2007, was named Cumbria’s Best Small Producer in 2013, and employs five full time members of staff and four part time. But this is now set to increase during 2016, following its recent partnership with some fellow entrepreneurs, passionate about high quality food production.
This fledgling artisan business was founded by Dumfries and Galloway Dairy Farmer, Mark Callander and Cumbrian Business Consultant, Stuart MacLennan, who later brought in Appleby Creamery Director, Maurice Walton, and more recently, Marketing Consultant, Pete Crouch, to form Cows & Co Group.
The Cows and Co cheeses are made from milk entirely from Mark’s herd of traditional Ayrshire cattle, used because the composition of their milk is ideally suited to cheese production. The creamery currently processes up to 300,000 litres of milk per year to produce 14 different cheeses and the rapid success of the Scottish arm of the business means that they must now consider moving to larger premises. The proposed new unit will be purpose-built to the rear of the Cross Croft Industrial Estate, from which they already operate, and will allow the creamery to produce their cheese on a larger scale, without compromising quality.
As part of their business plan, Cows & Co identified the need for a renewable energy strategy that would create a cost-effective means of generating both heat and power, thus producing a carbon-friendly product which is sympathetic to the core values of the business. This renewable energy strategy will arrive in the form of a biomass boiler, which will run using woodchips, locally sourced where possible and provide a sustainable, district heat scheme for all businesses on the new site. The planning process to install the boiler is currently underway, as part of a wider project to extend the industrial estate which is owned by local businessman, John Cannon.
During his visit, Rory sampled several cheeses and saw the cheese making process first hand. He said: “I am thrilled to see a small, local business taking advantage of a growing, strengthening economy by joining forces with energetic business partners and flourishing as a result. This cross-border approach will provide mutual benefit for both sides; creating opportunities for skills development and investment, and promoting economic growth and competition. I am also very pleased to hear about their district heat scheme: the Government is committed to meeting 15 per cent of the UK’s energy demands from renewable resources by 2020, and I believe these types of schemes have an important role to play in its success. Overall, this is a fantastic business model, expanding in a way which is sustainable, and the approval of planning which supports rural business growth such as this is key to the regeneration of our county.”
Stuart MacLennan of Cows & Co Group said: We are focused on bringing together the best forward thinking farmers and artisan businesses from across the whole of borderlands to grow sales and opportunities throughout premium UK & Export markets.