Food & Drink
South Caernarfon Creameries
Wales has a long-established infrastructure for dairy production and the oldest farmer-owned dairy co-operative in Wales continues to innovate and grow.
The story of South Caernarfon Creameries is a wonderful one. When John Owen Roberts set the group up near a woollen mill in Chwilog in 1938, it was with a vision to give dairy farmers the power of a united alliance of milk producers. In the 1950s, a bright spark realised that the surplus milk could be turned into cheese, by which time there were 1,200 members involved. And it’s been 50 years since their imports and exports began with Monteray Jack arriving from Wisconsin and Feta being sent to Greece.
These days, Wales’ oldest farmer- owned dairy co-operative continues to thrive. It supplies all the major retailers and has just secured a major contract with Sainsbury’s, a year after a Welsh Government growth loan helped the company modernise its facilities and increase its capacity.
While never forgetting its evocative history, the creamery has always remained ambitious and forward-thinking. In 2011, it invested in a £350,000 churn to keep the story going by ensuring the continuation of authentic Welsh butter production. Cheese production count has almost doubled to a current total of 12,000 tonnes each year, increasing to 17,000 after completion of Phase 2 of the project. A demonstration of the resourcefulness of the business is illustrated by the fact that the company matures its cheeses in caverns at the former Llechwedd slate quarry.
“This is a very exciting period for our business,” says Managing Director Alan Wyn Jones. “Our investment has resulted in the first new cheese factory built in the UK since the 1970s and provides us with best in class production facilities that will further support our growth and added value strategy.”
As well as exports, the success and passion of the business has emboldened the confidence of the 120 current members and farmers who are part of the group.