Cheesemakers seek business boost with national quality awards

And Portadown’s Ballylisk of Armagh Artisanal Soft Cheese has also won awards in the UK for quality and exceptional flavour.

The two producers were recognized at the prestigious International Cheese and Dairy Awards 2022 at the Staffordshire County Showground in Great Britain. Dale Farm took home gold for Irish cheddar cheese, of any variety, and an impressive number of awards for its range of cheddar cheeses, produced in one of Europe’s most modern cheese plants in Dunmanbridge, near Cookstown in Co Tyrone, including the Best Irish Cheese award and a trophy. for its mature variety

Dale Farm and Ballylisk were the only Northern Irish cheesemakers to win awards at the recent International Cheese and Dairy Awards (ICDA) 2022 at the Staffordshire County Show, one of the world’s leading competitions in the international industry. ICDA is the biggest event in the UK dairy industry’s annual calendar.

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Ballylisk from Armagh’s Mark Wright and Andrena Nash, winning at the International Cheese and Dairy Awards

Belfast-based Dale Farm is Northern Ireland’s largest farmers’ cooperative with an extensive portfolio of dairy products, especially cheddar cheese. The cooperative exports its cheese to many international markets.

Portadown’s family-owned Ballylisk of Armagh won gold, silver and bronze awards at the annual event. The small business, which sources its milk from the Wright family’s pedigree dairy farm in Tandragee and processes it in a state-of-the-art plant just outside Portadown, won gold for its oatmeal cheese crackers and other awards for its soft cheeses. Triple Rose original and smoked.

The oatmeal cookies, celery and sea salt flavor are made for Ballylisk by Ditty’s Bakery in Castledawson, one of Northern Ireland’s most respected and successful artisan bakeries. In addition to oatcakes, Ballylisk has created condiments to go with the cheese.

Ballylisk owner Mark Wright expressed the small-batch producer’s delight at receiving the endorsement of the judges at the influential awards, saying, “We are delighted to have won three awards for our cheeses and oatcakes developed with the master baker Robert Ditty, who knows all about award making.” – winning oatmeal cakes.

“Winning at ICDA is a huge boost for a small dairy like Ballyisk and will help raise awareness in Britain of the originality and quality of our cheeses, especially the Triple Rose products which are already on sale with major retailers like Fortnum. and Mason in London, Sheridan’s in Dublin and key supermarkets in the Republic, including Aldi. We are now focused on increasing sales in these two important markets for our cheese.”

ICDA is the world’s largest platform for championing world-class dairy and cheese producers, attracting more than 5,500 entries from producers large and small.

The prestigious awards were part of Love Cheese Live, one of the UK’s biggest and most influential food and drink festivals, held as part of the Staffordshire County Show.

Winning one of the coveted awards means being part of an elite group and a 125-year tradition of the best cheese, especially in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Success at the event means a high profile for cheesemakers, delicatessens, retailers and foodservice companies across the British Isles and beyond.

Republic cheesemakers such as Carbery, Glanbia, Dairygold and Cashel Farmhouse also did very well in the UK awards. The renewed national recognition for Dale Farm comes as the leading dairy cooperative, Dale Farm, has posted record sales and profits in its latest financial results.

The dairy, which also produces milk, butter, ice cream and yogurt, is owned by more than 1,300 dairy farmers who supply the cooperative with fresh milk. For the year ending March 2022, the group’s overall turnover was £591m, up from £524m the previous year.

Group operating profit also jumped from £14m to £25.6m with profit before tax rising from £8.2m to £22.1m and EBITDA from £20.8m to £33. 8 million.

Group CEO Nick Whelan said: “I am pleased to see this strong performance from our cooperative and the talented people within it. Our focus is to ensure that our business is as efficient and profitable as possible so that we can pay the most competitive price for milk, while building a stable future for Dale Farm and the farmers who own our cooperative.

“In recent years, turnover has grown by 60% and profits have almost tripled. Achieving that means constantly adapting to change and making tough decisions, reviewing those areas that can no longer deliver and investing heavily in those that do. This year’s results are evidence that this approach is working.”

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