Wales’s oldest dairy farming co-operative is celebrating record sales of £52.9m and creating 11 new jobs taking the staff team to 130.
South Caernarfon Creameries, based in Chwilog, near Pwllheli, has expanded its product range, grown its customer base and recruited more Welsh farmers as supplying members.
The creamery, which makes Dragon branded cheeses and butter plus a wide range of award-winning products for the retail, wholesale and export markets, saw a 17% increase in sales in the last financial year.
It means total sales generated by the plant at Chwilog near Pwllheli have increased by some 60% in the last two years. The growths follows a major £13.5m investment to expand its production and packaging facilities in 2016.
SCC’s annual financial report just published for the year ending March 2019 show the company’s operating profit at £2.2m.
It comes after the staff team was expanded to 130, with eleven more staff taken on, generating a total wage bill worth £3.3m to the local economy in North Wales, on top of £37m in payments to the co-op’s 130 farming members for their milk.
The dairy produces 14,000 tonnes of cheese a year using 100% Welsh milk from 130 farming members across north and mid Wales.
Among a clutch of new sales achieved in the year was a contract to supply retail giant Tesco with the new Dragon Handcrafted range of cheeses. The innovative new range was created in collaboration with three other Welsh businesses Halen Môn, Penderyn Whisky and Llechwedd Slate Caverns.
It includes a Maplewood Smoked Cheddar developed with the smokery at Halen Môn, which recently scooped Gold and Silver prizes at the Royal Welsh Show, and was showcased to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on a visit to Anglesey this spring.
In order to support its ongoing growth, several new farmers have been signed up to supply the co-operative in the last year, following a recruitment drive launched at their 80th anniversary celebrations in 2018.
Alan Wyn Jones, Managing Director at South Caernarfon Creameries said:
“These are exciting times for all of us at South Caernarfon Creameries.
“The Directors of the business are satisfied with the overall financial performance for the period which were in-line with expectations.”
“We are delighted to have posted record sales for the second year running, helping to secure the futures for our staff here at Chwilog, our suppliers, our farming members, and our wider stakeholders.”
“Our business growth and success is the result of our staff and members’ hard work in producing high quality and innovative products and service to our customers”.
“Following major capital investment in recent years in our facilities our focus has been to maximise the operational capacity available to us whilst growing and developing a diverse and high-quality customer base.
“We now have a strong platform in place, a platform that we shall continue to build upon with the objective of providing our farmer members and staff a sustainable future”.
“With the current political uncertainty having an impact on the markets that we serve, the current environmental is a challenging one but we remain focused on adding as much value as possible in all that we do.
“We are committed to ongoing investment in our business and we face the future with excitement and confidence for ongoing progress and success”.
SCC was recently named as a Rural Business Awards (RBA) finalist in the Wales & Northern Ireland award in the Best Rural Food or Drink Business category, with the winner due to be announced in November.
The company has occupied the same base a Chwilog in an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the rural Llyn Peninsula for more than 80 years and has deep roots in the local area.
The majority (98%) of SCC’s 130 staff live within 20 miles of the plant. The company’s slogan: “Making award winning cheese, every day until the cows come home,” was celebrated in two television adverts to mark St David’s Day.
The company is an ambassador for high quality responsible dairy production, championing the Welsh provenance of its products.