Stilton cheesemakers warn they risk going bust as sales plunge 30%

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.

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“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.