The Wensleydale Creamery & Visitor Centre at Hawes in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, home of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese, today (Tuesday 1st June) welcomed MP Victoria Prentis, with the visit focusing on the introduction of the new UK Geographical Indication schemes.
Whilst visiting the famous Yorkshire cheesemaker and popular tourist destination, the Minister toured the Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience, stopping at the Viewing Gallery to watch the Creamery’s master cheesemakers in action handcrafting the famous creamy, crumbly cheese from local milk, before turning her hand to the art of cheesemaking and cheese grading with one of the Creamery’s cheese experts in the Visitor Centre, which attracts 350,000 visitors each year.
During the visit, the DEFRA Minister also discovered the award-winning range of handcrafted cheeses and the many partnerships and food pairings that the Creamery has formed with other local producers, as she toured the popular Cheese & Gift shop with shelves full of artisan food & accompaniments.
The Minister’s visit highlighted the introduction of the new UK Geographical Indication (GI) schemes, the bedrock of the UK government’s overarching strategy to protect traditional, local foods, giving unique products of origin, the recognition they deserve.
The Wensleydale Creamery was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission in December 2013 to protect the authenticity of its Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese. This status recognises the distinctive qualities of its famous cheese, created by the skill of its cheesemakers, using traditional techniques and a time-honoured recipe, together with its unique cheesemaking starter culture. Importantly, the status recognises the geographical area in which the cheese is made, in its rightful home of Wensleydale.
These unique elements, combined with the multi-award-winning status of Wensleydale Creamery and its reputation based upon quality, consistency, provenance, and authenticity ensure that there is a clear point of difference to the Wensleydale cheeses that are produced elsewhere around the UK.
The introduction of the new UK GI schemes will reaffirm true Yorkshire Wensleydale credentials and help shoppers differentiate it over other Wensleydale cheeses, made in other counties.
Research conducted for DEFRA found that consumers were interested in the story behind the products that they buy. It also found that they were keen on purchasing regional foods to support local producers, and that they associate local produce with higher quality.
DEFRA Food Minister, Victoria Prentis, said: “It was fantastic to visit the Wensleydale Creamery, home to the original Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese, to learn more about its history as one of the major UK Geographical Indication producers.
“Sites such as the Creamery are major providers of rural jobs, contributing millions of pounds to local economies across the UK. Everyone should try more of the UK’s excellent local and regional produce, and I hope to see more producers sign up to our new GI schemes, which protects products with special quality, provenance and heritage.”
Sandra Bell, Marketing Manager, commented: “We welcome Minster Prentis’ visit and her support for protecting iconic British foods through the new GI schemes.
“Our creamy, crumbly iconic Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese is extremely important to us and something we are proud to protect. It is important for us and our loyal customers that it is handcrafted here in its rightful home of Wensleydale.
“The GI schemes and logos are essential to differentiating unique British brands on-shelf, ensuring we continue to protect the authentic heritage and provenance of handcrafted Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.”
As the biggest employer in this deeply rural area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Creamery not only provides vital jobs for the community, but sources milk from over 40 local farms, and also supports local businesses by stocking produce in its Visitor Centre and Online Deli, as well as incorporating into dishes served.