Stateside success for British cheesemaker

Export | Food & Drink | Growth | International | South West

Bristol-based farm and cheesemaker, Lye Cross Farm, has secured additional business in the US which is estimated to generate more than £1.5m in turnover within the next 12 months. The deal will see the company ship its certified 100% Grass-fed Organic Sharp Cheddar Cheese to the country.

Initially launching in 30 grocery stores in California, the company expects to see its cheese in up to 1,000 stores by the end of 2019. This has the potential to double Lye Cross Farm’s business in the US.

The cheese has been made specifically for the US market after the business discovered that US buyers prefer creamier cheeses with a more distinct yellow colouring.

The award-winning brand is owned by the Alvis family, who produce a selection of Cheddar, Double Gloucester and Red Leicester and have been making West Country cheese since 1952. The family owns three dairy farms which are home to the 1,200 dairy cows that provide the milk used in their selection of cheeses.

As part of the Food is GREAT campaign, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) are supporting many businesses to take the leap and sell their food and drink products abroad. The campaign is a cross-departmental initiative to showcase the calibre of UK food and drink overseas and help companies build new exporting relationships.

Lye Cross Farm has now received funding support from Defra and DIT to attend the Natural Products Expo West in Southern California in March 2019 to showcase its new product and meet other potential buyers.

The company has been exporting its cheeses for around 20 years and implemented a focussed export strategy eight years ago. A third of its total cheese sales now come from exported goods and it trades in more than 40 countries worldwide with its latest wins in Germany, Poland, Maldives and Austria.

Ben Hutchins, Sales and Marketing Director, said: “2018 was a monumental year for our business. Last year, our director and owner, John Alvis, received an OBE for services to cheese exports, farming and rural communities and we’ve recently hired an additional exports administrator. With so many milestones achieved, it seemed like the right time to expand our operations in the US.

“We’ve been working with the team at DIT for the past eight years and our International Trade Adviser has always been on hand to offer guidance and support on how to enter new markets and attend international trade shows. There is nothing quite like meeting a potential buyer face-to-face and having them try your products first-hand. There is support out there, so my advice to any business would be to tap into the global appetite for British-made goods. If we can do it, so can other ambitious South West businesses.”

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