After throwing a lifeline to its struggling sheep milk farmers affected by the pandemic by fast tracking the launch of its new format feta-style cheese, North Yorkshire cheesemaker Shepherds Purse has secured listings at Morrisons and Booths supermarkets for Fettle.
The handcrafted, reformatted 150g square blocks of Fettle cheese will be stocked in 65 Morrisons supermarkets across Yorkshire and 18 Booths stores in the region from this week. Fettle is Yorkshire’s version of feta, a Mediterranean salad style cheese handmade with whole ewes’ milk to give a piquant, lemony flavour and slightly crumbly texture.
Shepherds Purse is also in talks with other retailers who are working hard to get the product listed to help the sheep milk farming industry survive the devastating impact of Covid-19 on their livelihoods. The cheesemaker has also seen strong support to stock the product from its wide independent customer base across Yorkshire and the whole of the UK.
Family-run Shepherds Purse wanted to support its sheep milk farmers hit hard by the lockdown and huge drop in demand following the coronavirus health crisis and took the risky decision to increase its weekly milk order by 75% and bring forward its Fettle product relaunch.
Caroline Bell, MD, Shepherds Purse commented:
“We are delighted to announce the first listings of our new format Fettle cheese with Morrisons, Booths and through our independent customer base and we’re hopeful that it will give our sheep milk farmers confidence to keep producing. We have also been able to un-furlough some of our staff to produce the cheese, which is great news in these uncertain and challenging times.
“The recent virtual #British Cheese Weekender proved a great success and we are delighted with the support we have received not only from retailers in stocking the product, but from the general public in our fight to help the sheep milk farming sector,” continued Caroline.
Simon Stott of Sheep Milk UK said:
“We’re blown away with the support so far, we’re still far from secure and we have much more work to do, but the launch of Fettle and the speed at which retailers are listing it is brilliant and gives our farmers confidence to hang in there.”
Shepherds Purse is an award-winning artisan cheese company, making speciality cheese from the finest local cow’s milk, sheep milk and water buffalo milk. It was founded in 1989 after farmer’s wife, Judy Bell discovered her passion and talent for cheesemaking. More than 30 years later, the company has grown on the family farm. Now a team of 35, and run by the next generation, Judy’s daughters, Katie Matten and Caroline Bell, they make a range of 9 cheeses, including Yorkshire Blue, Harrogate Blue, Mrs Bells Blue, Yorkshire Fettle and the new format Fettle.