Cheese plant needs more milk suppliers after record sales surge

Farm co-operative South Caernarfon Creameries (SCC) has launched a recruitment drive for new milk suppliers after posting record sales of £45m.

The news was revealed by managing director Alan Wyn Jones at an open day to celebrate the company’s 80th anniversary at its Chwillog base near Pwllheli on the Llŷn Peninsula .

For the second year running SCC has seen its sales rise sharply with a 36% increase to £45.1m for the year ending March 2018.

Mr Wyn Jones said the figures reflected growing demand for the company’s cheeses and butter following a £12m investment in its production facility and cheese packing plant.

And he predicted the momentum would continue as the co-operative targets new markets.

He said: “There is ever increasing demand for our products and we continue to innovate in order to add as much value as possible.

“Only last week we were at a International fancy food fair in New York working to get our Dragon cheese brand in front of the USA audience.

“After 80 years, our ambition to grow and add value is as strong as ever.”

Peredur Williams, farm liaison manager at South Caernarfon Creameries

The co-operative has 127 farmer owners and to drive up sales it will need to secure greater volumes of milk.

Currently the SCC plant produces around 12,500 tonnes of cheese a year.

Mr Wyn Jones said: “With that in mind we are keen to recruit more all-year-round milk producing dairy farmers into our ranks.

“We currently pay one of the highest milk prices in Wales and we work hard to innovate and take advantage of new technologies to ensure we produce the highest quality products on their behalf.

“A number of potential newcomers were among the hundreds here at the open day touring our premises and seeing for themselves the opportunities South Caernarfon Creameries can offer them.”

Pictured milking a cow at the open day was Ceiri Tudor Davies, 8

His comments were echoed by SCC farm liaison manager Peredur Williams, who encouraged milk producers to be “part of a very exciting and positive future”.

He added: “We welcome interest from dairy farmers across Mid and North Wales in particular.”

At the open day members of the public were able to see the entire cheese production process.

Site tours included a visit to a storage warehouse where 5,000 tons of cheese are matured at a 8C before being graded and cut to size.

Peredur explained: “We produce a range of cheeses at different maturity levels, including our cavern aged cheese which is matured underground at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns in Blaenau Ffestiniog.”

Enjoying SCC's open day were Lora Jen Pritchard and Efa Angharad Williams

To celebrate its link with Llechwedd, a duck race was held with a first-past-the-line prize of a family day at the slate cavern.

Demonstrations of slate splitting were also held.

Other highlights included a pop-up shop selling limited edition Welsh Cavern Cheddar and Oinc Oink Cheese Sausages.

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Carys Davies attended the open day with her sons, Iori Dafydd Davies, 10 and Ceiri Tudor Davies, 8.

Her husband, Malcolm Davies is a member of the co-operative, producing milk from Nyffryn Farm, in Dinas, near Pwllheli.

She said: “It was a great way for the local community to be part of an important anniversary.

“It’s been fun, educational and, of course, we’ve also been lucky enough to taste the best cheeses in Wales!”

Shon Jones and Mark Edwards offered visitors a cheese grading 'experience'

Proud of great granddad's legacy

South Caernarfon Creameries (SCC) employs 130 staff and among the newest is Jordan Roberts, 23, the great grandson of the co-operative’s founder, the late John Owen Roberts.

In the 1930s Mr Roberts had a vision to see Welsh dairy farmers work together to market their own milk.

Following a determined campaign his plan came to fruition in 1938 when the SCC co-operative was born.

At first it focused on milk distribution, but in 1959 it began cheese production and now this is its primary product.

Alan Wyn Jones and Jordan Roberts with his great grandfather's MBE, now in SCC's safekeeping

John Owen Roberts was later awarded an MBE for his outstanding contribution to the Welsh dairy industry.

After his death the medal was given to SCC by Jordan’s grandfather, William Roberts, to keep in posterity.

Jordan, of Pwllheli, who works in the cheese processing area, was honoured to be part of the company his great grandfather founded, and to see it enjoying continued success.

He said: “I’m proud to think something he started for the good of the whole farming community in Wales is still going strong today.”