Friday, 15 September 2017

Brexit: and cheese

Devon and the West Country produce quite a lot of cheese:
West Country Cheese | Five West Country Cheeses You Must Try - West Country Cheese
On the trail of Devon’s cheeses - Recipes & restaurant reviews | Devon Life
Britain's Best Cheesemongers: Country Cheeses - Great British Chefs
Michael Caines: My West Country | The Independent

Here's a question which is certainly of no interest to West Country folk - but buried in the article is an alarm from a Devon cheese producer:

Is Brexit Going to Put Londoners Off Cheese?

Amid ongoing uncertainty, London’s cheesemongers fear the worst

by Ellie Broughton Sep 14, 2017, 2:27pm BST

Courtesy Wildes Cheese

More than a year after the referendum on Britain’s membership to the European Union, most Britons are still no wiser about what Brexit will really mean. One organisation with a clear view of the future is the British Retail Consortium. The organisation has just issued a report warning that, whatever the settlement, food shortages should be expected, and prices will rise across the board. Little wonder: four fifths of food imported to UK shops comes from Europe. There's good reason to believe that cheese will be a chief casualty during Brexit — and, amusing as it might sound, a cheese crisis is no laughing matter: The UK, over the past twelve months, spent £2.8bn on cheese.


Economic uncertainty indeed makes it urgent for cheesemakers to invest in whatever makes their businesses as cost-effective as possible. Mary Quicke, who runs 450-year-old Quicke’s Traditional Ltd in Devon, built an entirely new milking parlour this year, and says: “It has now become really important to make our productivity as good as it possibly can be. We're going to be absolutely messed around if we don't.” She adds that the exodus of EU workers, and the potential loss of access to EU food science, also pose real risks.

Brexit and cheese: no laughing matter Courtesy Wildes Cheese

Even small British cheesemakers, who make and sell everything here, are worried. Philip Wilton, who runs Wildes in Tottenham, making and selling artisanal cheeses such as the semi-hard cow’s milk Ally Pally White, says the lack of information about Brexit is leaving his business vulnerable: “I want to know: what the bloody hell are you going to do? What does this mean for me? No one can tell me. We can't prepare, we can't do anything.”

As the value of the pound falls and costs rise, Brexit will stretch small and independent British cheesemakers and -mongers to breaking point. Sadly, this might be a crisis that we can’t just eat our way out of.