I have been talking to Cargill about buying some of their starter culture. These conversations have taken place over the last four months or so and culminated in a rather unpleasant conversation with a Cargill sales man.
From the start, I was told first that I would have to buy a commercial freezer that could store the starter culture at -40 0C. I found out that they give these freezers to some people, but not to me, evidently. They put me in touch with a very nice lady who gave me a quote of around £500 + VAT – a bit out of our range.
I then discovered other Cargill starter culture users manage to store their starter in an ordinary freezer. Fine, I thought, let’s try again.
Next, I had a couple of conversations with their technical people who were nothing but helpful re which starter I should try.
I tried to place an order: no. I was told (a propos of absolutely nothing, other than to belittle me) that they are one of the biggest companies in the world…yeeees…so what…I am a small cheese maker…and that normally they would refer me to a stockist. Fine, I said, rapidly losing patience and astounded at the arrogance, who are the stockists? ‘There are none in the UK’, they laughed.
They asked me how many thousand I would take a year. I said I make Wenslydale cheese once or sometimes twice a week and did the sums. They suggested I should go and pick up my supply from other cheese makers, which is an interesting proposition on many levels.
The final sneer was that ‘it wasn’t worth it’. For them.
I have since found out, after relaying this story to cheese maker friends, that this attitude is a common experience.
Cargill: you should be ashamed of yourselves.