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Farmhouse cheese sales not so gouda

Wednesday, 1st April, 2020 5:21pm

There’s been a major collapse in sales of farmhouse cheeses amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

A survey carried out by Cáis, the Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers, showed that there’s fears of significant job losses while it also highlighted an estimated 75 per cent drop in sales as a result of the closure of foodservice outlets and farmers’ markets.

Cáis is now appealing to the retail sector to continue to stock its products while it has also set up an online campaign highlighting where farmhouse cheese can be bought and delivered to your home.

The growing list of stockists can be accessed on irishcheese.ie.

Cáis also expressed concern about finding a home for excess milk produced, on their own farms and as well as speciality milk from sheep, goat and buffalo. The association acknowledged that it was grateful for the support received by retailers to date but that continued support was required to keep the industry operational.

Louis Grubb, Chairperson of Cáis and founder of Cashel Farmhouse Cheese said: “We are devastated at how the Covid-19 public health emergency has impacted on the foodservice business and the economy in Ireland. Members of our association are typically very small, independent producers with few resources behind them. They are however very significant to the fabric of rural Ireland and to the food image of our country.”

He added: “It is important when this crisis has stabilised, and we return to a new normality, that we still have speciality cheesemakers in Ireland. The only way we can ensure the viability of our sector is by doing everything we can to encourage Irish retailers to stock, and promote, our products at this time. We are very grateful for the support received to date on this matter.”

The Irish Farmhouse Cheese sector is valued at €27 million at farmgate value and the sector employs about 300 people while 46 per cent of the Irish farmhouse cheesemakers on the market have set up business in the past nine years.

Cáis said that each cheese is unique to its producer and farm and the majority of Irish farmhouse cheese businesses are family-based with strong links into the rural community and economy.

Some Irish farmhouse cheese produced in Cork are Ardsallagh Goat Products in Carrigtwohill, Bó Rua Farm in Fermoy, Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese Ltd, Coolea Farmhouse Cheese Ltd in Macroom, Durrus Cheese Ltd in Bantry, Hegarty's Cheese in Whitechurch, Macroom Buffalo Cheese Products, Toonsbridge Cheese in Macroom, Ardagh Castle Cheese in Baltimore and Ballinrostig Organic Cheese in Whitegate.

Others include Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Bluebell Falls Goat's Cheese in Charleville, Gubbeen Farmhouse Cheese in Schull, Orchard Cottage Dairy in Ballinhassig, Saoirse Goat's Milk and Cheese in Ballingeary, Sunview Goats in Macroom, Clonmore Cheese in Charleville and Vincenzo's Cheese in Macroom.

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