Cheese firm given £2.5m to create jobs and more Stilton
A Leicestershire cheese-maker has been given £2.5m to create extra jobs and produce an extra 1,675 tonnes of Stilton a year.
Long Clawson Dairy, which is based near Melton Mowbray, secured the funding to expand its annual production of Stilton by a quarter.
The money – from the East Midlands Development Agency (Emda) – will pay for a four-year project to build new facilities.
This will include processing equipment, and will create about a dozen jobs.
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It will also pay for the development of a new water treatment process, which allows the dairy to reuse the leftover whey.
This will save the factory more than 34m litres of water every year.
Dairy chairman Martin Taylor said: "What a great Christmas present to find out the funding has been agreed and that our plans can now go ahead. We're all really excited about the expansion.
"It will enable us to fulfil the growing demand for Stilton worldwide and develop new products, penetrate new markets and create new jobs locally, as well enabling us to make significant savings on our water and electricity resources.
"Without the grant, none of this would have been possible.
"We're really grateful to Emda for recognising the potential of the development and look forward to future business opportunities."
Last year, the company had a turnover of about £54m.
The dairy employs about 200 people and produces 6,700 tonnes of cheese in 60 varieties every year – which is exported to 36 countries, including China and Australia.
Exports account for about 20% of the company's business.
However, more than 30% of trade is done over the Christmas period, when more than £18m worth of traditional blue Stilton is sold.
Emda helped secure the bid though the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
Andrew Morgan, skills and communities director at Emda, said: "This project is a fine example of what RDPE is about. Supporting co-operation between producers and processors through RDPE is widely encouraged, however, it is not always easy to achieve.
"Working with more than 40 local dairy farmers, Long Clawson Dairy Ltd is making this significant investment, which will add value to and increase demand for liquid milk, while improving the competitiveness of the business.
"Not only will this improve returns for our region's farmers but for the East Midlands as a whole, which is vital in our aim of becoming a flourishing region by 2020."
Long Clawson Dairy was founded in 1911 after 12 farmers from the Vale of Belvoir, in Leicestershire, came together to produce authentic Stilton cheese.
There are six dairies in the world licensed to make blue Stilton cheese, four of which are in Leicestershire.
Stilton has been a protected name since 1996 and, by law, the cheese can only be made in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.