From Supplying Restaurants to Food Banks
Picking up awards at British, International and World Cheese Awards still does not protect you from the realities of a pandemic. Farmer and cheesemaker Mike Smales of Lyburn Farmhouse Cheeses recalls: “Initially we lost 50% of our business in the early days of lockdown, although there were other artisan cheesemakers hit even worse. We lost London, export, pubs, hotels and restaurants… However village and farm shops stepped up to the plate and sold lots more cheese, and as they were running out of cheese quickly we had to put more deliveries on the road and deliver more often which continued until three weeks ago .
“We have taken on a lot of new customers. Some we found, but a lot have found us. Locally a number of business changed to, or started up, box deliveries, and we needed to supply them on a weekly basis. We also started up an online service, and have been sending cheese all over the country. Come the middle of July, this tailed off, but the pubs and restaurants have started up again and picked up the pace. In addition, the village and farm shops have continued to perform and are generally using more cheese than they used to.
“Looking ahead, we will continue with our online service as there are clearly customers who enjoy their Lyburn Cheese but live too far away to get it on a regular basis. We have also sent out a lot of cheese as presents. We have also grated some cheese to go in as ingredients.
“In terms of community involvement, we had cheese that was going out of date, so rather than waste it we fed it into the Food Banks in Romsey and Winchester and that has worked well. Nothing has been wasted.
"We are now operating at two thirds production and this will continue to rise as sales pick up. We have nearly finished the new milking parlour that we started back in February, the old one is 50 years old exactly and is totally shook!”
Read more inspirational stories about turning things round in lockdown. There's a link HERE to a story about Harvest Fine Foods who had to move from wholesale to retail. Quickly.