Morrisons cheese

Morrisons has launched a ‘new’ Lake District cheese brand as part of its package of support for farmers supplying milk for cheese manufacture.

The retailer said it listed the brand earlier this month after announcing the imminent launch of its Milk for Farmers fresh milk and cheese ranges, and a pledge to increase the guaranteed minimum price offered to processors through the winter. 

Morrisons declined to give any further detail on the brand apart from the fact it was made from British cheese and carried the Red Tractor logo. However, a range of First Milk’s Lake District Cheddar brand has returned to its shelves over the past two weeks, accompanied by a ‘new’ barker. 

The struggling Lake District brand - which is packed and distributed by Adams Foods - saw its value plummet from £45.2m in 2012 to just £11.5m last year [Nielsen 52 w/e 30 August 2014], and had lost all of its major listings by last November apart from Northern supermarket Booths.

Adams Foods said in May that a relaunch for the brand planned for early 2015 had been postponed due to retailer consolidation of Cheddar lines and a sales slump in the cheese category. However, at the time Adams insisted it was committed to exploring new opportunities for the brand, and would continue to try and develop “relevant positioning” for it.

The cheese is currently for sale on a two 350ml packs for £4 offer. Adams Foods declined to comment further on the Morrisons listing.

Dairy industry consultant Hamish Renton said the brand was “familiar to a good number of cheese shoppers”, but was “neither up there with the volume leaders such as Cathedral City, Pilgrims Choice and Seriously Strong, nor the more focused Cheddar propositions such as Tickler and Davidstow”.

“Given that cheese category value deflation is rife and greater than total grocery deflation, many brands are struggling to achieve a price premium over own label,” he added. “The worry would be that if any brand can’t command a higher price than own label in the long run, then perhaps the long term prospects aren’t that great.”