Mark Allen said that 100,000 tonnes of Cheddar is exported to the UK annually, yet much of it carries a UK ‘health mark’, because the packing takes place in this country.
He added that he would like to see a more accurate on-pack message, and is calling on the government and the cheese industry to act.
Mr Allen told Food Manufacture, “In the minds of consumers, it is UK cheese because the packaging carries UK health marks. I think the whole supply chain can help with this, because there isn’t a level playing field.
“What the industry needs is clarity. It needs the government, our customers, ourselves and consumers to understand where the cheese is made. We source 100% of our milk from Devon and Cornwall and we are very proud to be a UK brand. The money we make from that product goes into the UK economy, to our farmers, to our staff and to our shareholders. All of the effort we put in is for the UK.
“To make sure that our UK investment remains valid, we want to play on an even playing field where consumers can choose to purchase what they believe is right either – from overseas or from a UK product.”
A spokesperson for the British Cheese Board added, “By law, all dairy products must carry a health mark that indicates where the last significant stage of processing took place. What is confusing is that most of the imported Cheddar is cut into smaller pieces and, as such, will carry a UK health mark. So, unless the packaging on the cheese tells you that it came from a named UK dairy, farm, region or country within the UK, it is likely that the Cheddar is imported.”