Because Norway is outside the EU, it can only export 4,000 tonnes of Jarlsberg to member states every year. However, sales are rising, with pre-sliced performing particularly well.
The new factory is operated by Irish processor Dairygold. It will produce rindless blocks of Jarlsberg destined primarily for slicing and
packing in the UK, Tine’s biggest EU market.
Tine will continue to export rind-on wheels of Jarlsberg from Norway to the EU.
Tom Henrik Sundby, MD of Tine UK, said that the company was targeting UK sales volumes of 1,500 tonnes this year, 25% higher than in 2005.
He said Jarlsberg value sales in the UK had risen by 5% a year since 2001, and were worth £8.5m at retail last year. Sliced Jarlsberg volume sales had risen 15% year-on-year in the past 12 months, he added.
Although all major retailers listed block Jarlsberg, some major chains did not sell the sliced version, which offered opportunity for growth, said Sundby. In particular, there were high hopes for sales of Jarlsberg low fat slices.
He said that there were also plans to launch grated Jarlsberg and a mature block, Jarlsberg Reserve. Tine would also promote more to suppliers, particularly of pizzas.
Sundby insisted the specification of the Irish Jarlsberg would be identical to that produced in Norway.
“It has the same colour and the same taste. The starter culture is being exported from Norway, so you could say that the soul of the product is still being produced in Norway.”