Despite international trade complications caused by Brexit, COVID, new USA tariffs and now the war in Ukraine, we have been able to excel amidst tumultuous times for the industry and win the coveted Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category.
‘It really has been one thing after another,’ says Managing director David Orchard. ‘But with a very solid business structure, we have weathered the storm.’
While Trump’s tariffs decimated many exporters’ ambitions to the USA, direct sales of Cropwell Bishop Stilton actually grew under our stewardship during this time.
The complications that Brexit brought were also turned into a positive - while many companies buried their heads in the sand, a new operating company, Cheese Matters BV, was established in Holland giving ample time to prepare for the day the UK officially left the EU.
‘We hit the ground running,’ says David, ‘exporting over 120 tonnes of premium farmhouse cheddar from A.J.Barber in our first month of operation.’
Between three UK hubs, Cheese Matters coordinates exports all over the world.
Operating out of a state-of-the-art facility at Dewlay Cheesemakers of Garstang, Cheese Matters now ship a full container of speciality, UK milk-produced cheeses every two weeks to the EU.
At premium UK cheesemakers Joseph Heler, Cheese Matters have a South-East Asia loading hub where containers are regularly shipped to Singapore, India and The Middle East.
A third hub operates out of Cropwell Bishop Creamery, where every two weeks premium blue stilton is shipped to the USA.
Over 200,000 litres of milk equivalent is exported every week by Cheese Matters Ltd; a great achievement for a company only established four years ago.
‘We are too good at beating ourselves up in the UK and moaning about events totally out of our control,’ chuckles owner John Carr OBE. ‘Concentrate on managing what you can control. Focus on that and get on with it.’
With a carefully executed export strategy, the support of great UK cheese producers and a can-do attitude, Cheese Matters are flying the flag for UK dairy around the world, pointing the way for other start-up businesses in the agricultural sector.
‘It’s a real credit to my team and the Lancashire cheese making community,’ says owner John Carr. ‘I can’t tell you how much we owe this award to the Kenyon family of Dewlay Cheesemakers as well as Tim and Sue Procter of Kick Ass Cheese for their support from the very beginning of Cheese Matters Ltd.’
'We have an absolute wealth of talent on our doorstep that have made this possible,' says John. ‘Our legal team at Harrison Drury advised us on establishing Cheese Matters Ltd, Mick Gornall at Towers and Gornall has helped and advised while we continue to grow internationally, and the rest has been down to my hardworking team and family support.’ Combatting the effects of Brexit and COVID has proved challenging for many businesses involved in international trade. However, despite these obstacles, in just four short years, Cheese Matters has grown to boast sales of just under 1000 tonnes per year.
Cheese Matters are proud to have their philosophy, their hard work and their ability to adapt in unprecedented times recognised by winning a Queen’s Award.
The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category reflects export achievement, but as John says: ‘it's an award rooted in the talent we have found in Lancashire. All we did was put it all together and made Cheese Matter!’