The UK’s only trademarked cheese risks disappearing with restaurants closed and British shoppers opting for foreign produce instead, an industry body has warned.
The Stilton Cheese Makers Association (SCMA), which represents the UK’s Stilton producers, said sales have plunged 30% since Britain went into lockdown and export markets closed.
It has a protected designation of origin status, meaning it can only be labelled Stilton if produced in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, with some dairy farms in the area stretching back five generations.
Robin Skailes, chairman of the SCMA and director of Cropwell Bishop Creamery, said: “Like many British food producers, Stilton sales have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Today in the Commons I asked about the status of Rushcliffe's brilliant🧀Stilton Cheesemakers🧀@YummyStilton @colstonbassett in our Free Trade Agreement with the US. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 @trussliz joined me in our commitment to reduce tariffs on Stilton trade🌎 #stilton #cheese @tradegovuk 👇 pic.twitter.com/6hmEyKoJwO
— Ruth Edwards MP (@RuthEdwardsMP) May 12, 2020
“We hope that the British public will support us by buying Stilton instead of imported blue cheeses which, in turn, will support British dairy farmers.”
The cheese, which is the UK’s most popular blue variety, is still being made but with demand down there are fears that the milk used could be wasted.
The SCMA said it is also concerned the current situation will discourage the next generation of cheesemakers, with businesses looking at new ways to sell their products directly to consumers.
Stilton was first given trademark status in 1966 and has also been awarded protected origin status – which also include UK favourites Gloucester Old Spot pigs and Jersey Royal potatoes.