Melton Mowbray stilton

Source: Arla Foods

The dairy co-op has launched a review of the facility, which employs 60 staff

Arla Foods has begun a strategic review of operations at its Melton Mowbray creamery in Leicestershire, where it will “explore the market for any buyers” for the speciality cheese facility.

The creamery, known locally as Tuxford & Tebbutt, currently employs around 60 people. It specialises in the manufacture of stilton.

During the review process, the dairy co-op said the site would “continue to be operational during this time, and there will be no impact to production, customers, or employees”, Arla stressed.

The review had been prompted by a continuing decline in the speciality cheese market in the UK, including sales of stilton, said Fran Ball, VP of production at Arla Foods.

“As a farmer-owned co-operative, we are therefore looking at what this means for our business so we can continue to return a fair price back to our 2,000 UK farmer owners,” she added.

“We are proud of the heritage we have from our creameries across the UK. We are privileged to employ some of the finest cheesemakers in the country, which includes those at our Arla Melton Mowbray creamery.”

Ball said Arla was “committed to supporting all colleagues through periods of change and we understand that today’s announcement will bring a sense of uncertainty for those who work at Melton Mowbray and those who work directly with the site team”.

Arla is expected to provide an update on the review and the site’s future by April.

Total sales of blue cheese in the mults fell by 10% in volume terms last year, against a 20% rise in average price [Kantar 52 w/e 3 September].