Lancashire head-quartered,Northern food retailer, Booths, has launched a campaign to support British artisan cheesemakers who are struggling to cope with the Covid-19 crisis.
Graham Kirkham is one of the last makers of farmhouse Lancashire cheese in the country and makes his multi award-winning cheeses near Goosnargh. Overnight, he saw 60% of his markets disappear as food service and wholesale markets shut down during the lockdown.
“Three weeks ago, I was selling 2 tonnes cheese per week and two weeks ago, I sold 9 whole cheeses. I was stood there thinking how does nine cheeses run a farm, a cheesemaking dairy and pay 9 wages?” said Graham.
When Booths learned of Kirkham’s plight—they contacted them the following morning and asked what could be done to support Graham and his business.
The reply from Graham was typically Lancastrian, “buy more cheese and sell more cheese!”
In a bid to do just that, Booths are launching a campaign to help not only Graham and Mrs. Kirkham’s Farmhouse Lancashire, but to support the wider artisan British Cheese industry as a whole and encourage shoppers to buy more artisan cheese.
“Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese is part of the DNA of Booths, the idea that artisan producers like Graham could be at risk is a huge concern. Booths is very much a family business and that family extends to our suppliers. Their products are a rich part of what makes Booths a special place to shop, so we can and must do everything we can to support them,” said Nigel Murray, Chief Operating Officer.
“I know Booths customers will want to support these great British cheese makers and we’ll do everything we can to help through a focussed campaign promoting the industry and their products. British cheeses are vitally important not just to Booths, but they are a special part of our food heritage, from Colston Bassett to Appleby Creamery, these producers need public support right now.”
“Booths is one of the “good’uns”, said Graham, their support is simply amazing they are a genuine family business that looks after the wider supplier community. Their support at a time like this is reassuring, valued and appreciated.”
Graham’s message is heartfelt, “Please support us, your small, unique food producers. Otherwise, all those nice treats you’ve enjoyed won’t be here because we won’t be around to make them. We started making cheese in 1978, before that my grandma, my mum’s mum, made it all her life. This very necessary shut down is tough for lots of businesses, but it comes at a time of particularly challenging time on a farm.
“We’ve lots of outgoings from seed to young stock and spring is a very busy and expensive time on the farm. Farming never takes a break. Farmhouse cheesemakers need wider markets to keep going and keep going we will—but now’s a good time to enjoy and support artisan cheesemakers. Please hunt us out and buy from us, because if you don’t, we might not be here. That’s the black and white of it.”
“The dairy industry is facing major challenges due to the near total shutdown of the foodservice industry. It has always proved very difficult to quickly increase the sales of milk as it is a commodity, however supporting farmhouse cheese makers is something Booths can get behind and we’re here to support them, now more than ever and we believe we can make a difference” said Murray.