Arla announces plans to close historic Melton Mowbray stilton creamery
Source: Arla The dairy giant said the site, also known as Tuxford & Tebbutt, had suffered from a decline in specialty cheese sales

Arla has announced plans to close its historic Melton Mowbray creamery in Leicestershire, with 56 jobs under threat.

The dairy co-op’s announcement comes six months after it launched a strategic review of the site – known locally as Tuxford & Tebbutt – which was prompted by “a continuing decline” in the UK specialty cheese market.

The site, which specialises in the production of stilton and territorial cheeses, has been in operation since 1780.

At the time of the strategic review’s launch, Arla VP of production Fran Ball stressed the business was “proud of the heritage we have from our creameries across the UK. We are privileged to employ some of the finest cheesemakers in the country, which includes those at our Arla Melton Mowbray creamery.”

The dairy giant would not say if the closure of Tuxford & Tebbutt would lead to an end to specialty cheese production. However, under stilton’s protected designation of origin (PDO) status it can only be manufactured in Derbyshire, Leicestershire or Nottinghamshire, using pasteurised local milk.

Ball said the business would now enter a period of consolidation with staff at the creamery. “Our priority right now is to support our colleagues impacted during this challenging period,” she added.

If the plan goes ahead, Arla is proposing a phased closure during 2024.

The move comes three months after Arla announced a £179m investment at its Taw Valley site in Devon in March, in a move it claimed would help it become a “global mozzarella player”.

Arla took its spending on production upgrades to £300m in May after announcing further factory revamps at sites in Lockerbie, Stourton, Aylesbury and Westbury.

Kantar data shows value sales of blue cheeses have risen by 5.7% to £120.2m over the past year [52 w/e 18 February 2024]. But with average prices rising by 14.3%, volumes slumped by 7.6%.

Value sales of territorial cheeses (excluding blue cheese) rose by 8.2% to £322.3m, meanwhile. But with average prices up 16.5%, volumes fell back by 7.1%.

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