His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has backed a campaign calling for the public to support small cheesemakers, as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the futures of many of the country’s most celebrated farmhouse and artisan cheeses. This message of support, which was accompanied by a recipe for Cheesy Baked Eggs using British cheeses, was delivered during the first ever British Cheese Weekender.
The virtual cheese festival, staged throughout the Early May bank holiday weekend, was set up to raise awareness of the crisis facing the previously thriving industry and connect consumers directly to those selling their cheese online.
Continuing His Royal Highness’s longstanding support for Britain’s speciality cheesemakers, having served as Patron of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association (SCA) since 1993, the Royal backing for the campaign follows news of many cheesemakers losing 70% of their business when the hospitality sector was closed down. Organised by the Specialist Cheesemakers Association (SCA), the Academy of Cheese, the Guild of Fine Food and cheese writer Patrick McGuigan, the British Cheese Weekender showcased the very best of the nation’s cheese with 37 online events held over a three-day period.
A Message from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association, for “The British Cheese Weekender”
“As we continue to suffer from the ever more dreadful consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic, it has been tremendously heartening to hear of so many people supporting their neighbours and communities in whatever way that they can. It is encouraging, too, to hear of people using this time at home to indulge in the pleasure of cooking; embracing their kitchens and enjoying home-cooked meals. One thing that undoubtedly brings many of us great comfort is good food. It is, therefore, deeply troubling to learn that this crisis risks destroying one of the most wonderful joys in life – British cheese!
The closure of our pubs and restaurants has had a devastating impact on the sales of British cheese, and I understand that some of our smallest producers are really suffering as a result. I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that it would be an immense tragedy if these historic businesses were lost forever, to say nothing about the wonderfully flavoursome, memorable and diverse range of cheeses they produce.
As Patron of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association, I know all too well that this country now has some of the finest cheesemakers in the world. And, if I may say so, it is a great injustice that our cheesemakers rarely receive the same degree of recognition that their continental cousins receive across the Channel! Many of these are small, family-run businesses, working to historic methods with irreplaceable knowledge and making the most delicious products imaginable.
British cheesemakers need our support during this time of great uncertainty, and we can all help in the simplest way. By sourcing British cheese from local shops and cheesemongers, and directly from producers online, you can make a vital contribution to keeping these small businesses afloat during the prevailing crisis.
This weekend is the ‘British Cheese Weekender’, a celebration of all the diverse and skilled producers up and down the British Isles. I can only encourage you, if at all possible, to visit the Specialist Cheesemakers Association’s website and to assist these unique small businesses, the majority of which are seeing less than 50% of what they were selling two months ago, by trying something new and buying online.
To ‘whet your appetite’, I am sharing one of my favourite recipes that can be made by using any number of our great British cheeses, which I hope you might be tempted to try…”
Catherine Mead, chair of the Specialist Cheesemakers Association, added:
“It’s been incredibly challenging for small cheesemakers over the past six weeks, with many still facing very uncertain futures, so the support and encouragement of our Patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, means so much to all our members. Raising awareness of the significant issues facing the industry is essential if we are going to ensure the continuation of these small family businesses. This concern is shared by the public, who have been buying artisan cheese direct from producers and independent retailers in growing numbers, but we need this to continue and to become established as part of regular buying patterns. The success of the British Cheese Weekender shows just how much the nation cares for its cheese and we now aim to build on this support to ensure the survival of the fantastic cheeses made in this country.”
Cheese fans can catch-up on the events from the British Cheese Weekender at blog.academyofcheese.org/british-cheese-weekender.