Launch of first UK-made 100% grass-fed Pasture for Life organic cheddar at Dairy-Tech 2019

West Country cheese-maker Lye Cross Farm, based at Redhill near Bristol, is launching its first 100% grass-fed cheddar cheese at Dairy-Tech today (6 February). This has been created from milk produced by dairy cows that have never eaten any grains or cereals throughout their entire lifetime.

Genuine 100% grass-fed dairy products have a healthier fat content, a more balanced omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid profile, and additional vitamins and minerals, than milk from cows fed grains. This makes it a healthier cheese for people to eat.

The organic milk from commercial producers Mat and Jessica Boley farming in Somerset and Jonny and Rachael Rider farming in Wiltshire, who are members of the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA), is certified Pasture for Life. This means it has been independently audited as being from cows that have been 100% grass-fed. Lye Cross Farm is also a certified Pasture for Life creamery.

The initial work carried out by the PFLA to pilot the Pasture for Life certification standards for dairy was kindly supported by funds from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Sheepdrove Trust and Compassion in World Farming.

Ready to sell

The first 100% grass-fed organic cheese, made from milk produced in spring 2018, has been maturing for nine months and is now ready to sell. This cheese, which was exported to America in January 2019, is also guaranteed antibiotic-free and hormone-free.

“We have been taking Mat and Jonny’s milk for many years and we liked the idea of processing their grass-fed milk separately from the other milk we collect,” explains Lye Cross Farm Sales and Marketing Director Ben Hutchins.

“We have now built the infrastructure at the dairy to do this, so we can produce the first organic 100% grass-fed cheddar in the UK. It is very early days, but we estimate sales worth £2million this year. If demand is more than this, we can easily scale up production.

“This is one of the first 100% grass-fed cheeses to be sold into America, using the A Greener World 100% grass-fed label – which is equivalent to Pasture for Life here,” says Mr. Hutchins.

Export markets

Lye Cross Farm decided ten years ago to re-focus its marketing efforts on branded exports, with one third of its products being consumed in more than 40 countries and a quarter of these in the USA.

“We sell to many different customers in the US who love British cheese and the story we tell about how and where the cheese is made.

“100% grass-fed cheddar is definitely different – with a rich and creamy flavour and it is a brighter yellow, picking up the vitamins and minerals from the pasture the cows have eaten.”

Supplying 100% grass-fed milk

Dairy farmers Mat Boley and Jonny Rider have been supplying Lye Cross Farm with milk for the past 20 years and have never fed grain or concentrate to their cows.

“We were very interested when the PFLA started thinking about certifying purely grass-fed dairy farms, as well as the beef and sheep farms they had already been certifying for a few years,” says Mr. Boley.

“We can see demand coming for this type of product from the educated consumer. We were delighted to be one of the first commercial-sized dairy farms in the UK to be certified Pasture for Life.

“We are very excited about the possibilities 100% grass-fed brings. We are working closely with Lye Cross Farm to produce fabulous products that our customers want.”

The Riders are also delighted at the prospect of cheese being made from their 100% grass-fed cows.

“We have fed no grains or used any antibiotics on our milking cows since going organic in 2007,” says Rachael. “It is good to know it is now being made into a specific 100% grass-fed product.”

“The cheese is delicious and healthy to eat and it is so good to be able to pass these health benefits onto consumers.

“We see this as a great opportunity for us, the PFLA and Lye Cross Farm – all working in partnership to produce a high quality, nutritious dairy product.”

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