September 23, 2020

Cheese produced by North Yorkshire-based Shepherds Purse recognised as ‘Best of British’ by Waitrose

Waitrose has launched a special ‘Best of British’ cheese selection box in aid of its smallest British artisan suppliers that includes a Yorkshire cheese by North Yorkshire-based Shepherds Purse.

Available in all of its 251 stores that have cheese counters, the box is filled with five of Waitrose’s most popular British artisan cheeses including Yorkshire Blue, as well as Westcombe Cheddar, Sussex Charmer, Cornish Yarg & Rosary Garlic & Herb Goat’s Cheese.

With Covid-19 seeing more customers shopping quickly in-store or shopping online, the move is designed to help small scale artisan cheese makers, who normally rely on the cheese service counters for business.

The newly created box is another example of the supermarket’s efforts to adapt during this challenging period and find new ways to market products supplied by its smallest cheese producers, many of which have relied on its continued business throughout Covid-19.

Alice Shrubsall, assistant cheese buyer at Waitrose, comments: “Covid-19 created a big shift in the way people shop, particularly in the early stages, with more people wanting to grab and go. We recognised this trend and quickly adapted our approach to ensure our smallest cheese counter suppliers had the opportunity to sell their products in packaged form so that they didn’t lose out to the fast shopping habits adopted by customers in recent times. 

“The response has been great and our customers are already returning to our cheese counters as a result of a greater wrapped assortment, which has allowed them to choose from a wide variety of cheeses while giving them the flexibility to grab and go.”

Waitrose’s ‘Best of British’ cheese selection box is now available on counters priced at £15. 

Small cheese suppliers forced to adapt through Covid-19

Waitrose’s ‘best of British’ cheese box follows a broader business decision to continue to stock products from its smallest cheese suppliers and keep its counters open throughout Covid-19.

However, with more people looking to ‘grab and go’ in the early weeks of the pandemic, Waitrose worked with suppliers to find alternative solutions to sell products that traditionally required the assistance of Waitrose’s service counter partners.

One supplier that has been part of this trial is Caroline Bell, Managing Director of Shepherd’s Purse, who comments: “The flexibility that Waitrose has shown through this period has been vital, not only for our sheep farmers who have also been greatly impacted by Covid-19, but for the future of our business. 

“Yorkshire Blue is a key national product for us and had we not been able to sell at a normal capacity, we would be in a far different situation. As it stands, while there is still work to be done, we are now trying to reach a place where we can bring back our furloughed staff, and are very optimistic about the future.”