Turnover surges

Highland cheesemaker benefits from EU switch

Rory Stone: supermarkets are looking closer to home

Greater demand from UK outlets and carbon-conscious customers looking to buy locally-sourced products has seen Highland Fine Cheeses post a surge in revenue.

The cheesemaker said it had benefited from the combined effect of Brexit restrictions on EU trade and on changing consumer behaviour.

The Ross-shire company has replaced some of cheeses imported by retailers from Europe and is now selling to big chains such as Waitrose and Marks & Spencer in England.

It has resulted in a 33% rise in turnover in the year to the end of this month close to a record £2 million, from £1.5m in the previous 12 months.

The maker of Caboc and Strathdon Blue is now recruiting to maintain and accelerate its growth trajectory. 

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Owner Rory Stone, whose parents established the company in the fifties, said: “Brexit has, without a doubt, had a big effect. There is a certain grumpiness from our European friends and imports are not flowing as freely as they once did.

“This means that supermarket buyers and major wholesalers are having to look closer to home to source products to fill the nation’s shelves. There is definitely less choice in the cheese aisles.

“The last two years have also perceptibly changed people’s thinking about where food comes from, and the conditions in which it is produced. There has been a distinct re-shoring of shopping baskets.”

Research from Deloitte has showed that 59% of UK consumers bought from local shops and services more regularly during lockdowns and another study showed that just 32% of Generation Z believe that food shopping will continue to take place in traditional supermarkets

Mr Stone also believes that domestic producers have benefited from significant upticks in the prices sought by continental makers, as they, too, battle the global problems of rising costs of raw materials, energy and labour.

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