Wales’ oldest dairy farmers’ co-operative South Caernarfon Creameries scooped Gold for their Red Leicester at the prestigious World Cheese Awards held in Norway. The Red Leicester cheese made on the Llyn Peninsula with milk from Welsh cows has been named the best Red Leicester in the world.
The creamery, which employs 130 staff at its base in Chwilog near Pwllheli, also won Silver for its Extra Mature Cheddar and Bronze gongs for its Medium Cheddar and Reduced Fat Cheddars, taking the total number of awards this year to 69.
Earlier this year the Red Leicester which is available to wholesale customers in 20kg blocks and is sold as an own label at supermarkets across Wales, also won gold and silver prizes at the prestigious International Cheese and Dairy Awards in Nantwich.
There, SCC won ten prizes also including a gold for the Dragon brand half fat and silver for the Reduced Fat Cheddars. The Dragon brand Reduced Fat cheese was also hailed the best in show Supreme Cheese at this year’s Royal Welsh Show, and Best Welsh cheese, making it the best cheese made in Wales.
It follows an exciting re-brand of the much-loved range of Dragon cheeses made by SCC, which is this year celebrating its 80th anniversary.
It also follows a major £13.5 million investment in SCC’s new state-of-the-art cheese processing and packing plant, allowing new cheeses to be produced using traditional techniques on a modern industrial scale suitable for UK retail and export markets.
In total this year South Caernarfon Creameries has secured 15 Golds, 22 Silvers, 26 Bronze and six other prizes at awards where their products have been judged among the best from other producers, including the Great Taste Awards, Devon Show, British Cheese Awards, Royal Welsh Show, International Cheese Awards, South West Cheese Awards, Global Cheese Awards, and the World Cheese Awards.
A staggering record-breaking 3,500 cheeses from every corner of the globe were entered in this year’s World Cheese Awards. They were judged by an international panel of 230 experts from 29 nations, with prizes handed out for Bronze, Silver, Gold, and SuperGold winners, as well as selected Trophy winners.
Alan Wyn Jones, Managing Director of South Caernarfon Creameries, said:
“The World Cheese Awards is a truly global cheese event which has been bringing together cheesemakers, retailers, buyers, consumers and food commentators for over three decades.
“We are delighted to have secured a Gold, Silver and two Bronze prizes for our cheeses, out of such a vast field of entries. This is great news not only for our staff but our 125 Welsh farming members whose milk goes to make the cheese.
“This has been a fantastic year for us, in total our cheeses have won a total 69 prizes making it our best year yet for awards, a wonderful achievement of which we are all very proud.
“This is thanks in no small part to the expertise of our cheesemakers and the new technology we have installed thanks to our recent investments, all of which allows us to keep refining and developing the products to suit demand.
“The investment resulted in a 25% increase in production and our sales last financial year reached a record high of £45.1 million. This meant that our farming members were paid one of the best milk prices in Wales for the second year running.”
This year has also seen an exciting re-brand of the Dragon cheeses range.
All of SCC’s cheeses are made using milk sourced 100% from its Welsh farming members, and every block can be traced back to the cow.
Earlier this year the co-operative launched a recruitment drive for new farming members to supply milk. There are currently 125 supplying members and SCC remains Wales’ leading farmer-owned co-operative.
South Caernarfon Creameries was established in 1938 by 63 local farmers. By 1954, the number of farmer suppliers had grown to 120 and five years later the creamery began making cheese, sold as “Caws Llyn”.
The creamery processes more than 120 million litres of Welsh milk each year to produce a range of butter and cheese products. It still occupies its original site at Rhydygwystl, near Chwilog.
The location was carefully chosen on the border between Llyn and Eifionydd, two areas renowned for their Gulf Stream-warmed lush grass.