Tesco's bespoke 'modern' cheddar wins top cheese awards

Undated Tesco handout photo of its extra mature cheddar made by leading Devon cheese maker Parkham Farms, as the supermarket giant has taken gold at two top cheese events with what it claims is the UK's first commercially produced bespoke cheddar
Undated Tesco handout photo of its extra mature cheddar made by leading Devon cheese maker Parkham Farms, as the supermarket giant has taken gold at two top cheese events with what it claims is the UK's first commercially produced bespoke cheddar

A supermarket giant has taken gold at two top cheese events with what it claims is the UK's first commercially produced bespoke cheddar.

Tesco and a leading Devon cheese maker invited customers to create a modern cheddar reflecting the changing palates of cheese lovers.

Undated Tesco handout photo of Peter Willes, managing director of Bideford-based Parkham Farms, with an award won by Tesco and the leading Devon cheese maker for what they claim is the UK's first commercially produced bespoke cheddar

Undated Tesco handout photo of Peter Willes, managing director of Bideford-based Parkham Farms, with an award won by Tesco and the leading Devon cheese maker for what they claim is the UK's first commercially produced bespoke cheddar

For centuries, milder tasting cheddar was the most popular variety in the UK but recently the stronger mature and extra mature varieties have taken over as shoppers' favourites.

Retail analysts suggest demand over the last five years in the UK for mild and medium strength cheddar has fallen by 5% while sales of mature and extra mature have grown by 11%.

The supermarket, together with family-owned Parkham Farms, asked shoppers to help create the new cheddar.

Tesco cheese expert Kay Legge, who oversaw the project, said: "The British palate is changing and in the last five years we've seen a dramatic shift from mild to stronger tasting cheddar as the UK's favourite cheese.

"For over 50 years spicier foods have become more common in our diets and as our taste buds have acclimatised to the flavours we see that customers now have a hankering for a deeper and more complex taste profile for their cheese.

"Involving some of our customers in the cheese-making process has been really helpful.

"They obviously have great taste - as both varieties have won gold medals at two major cheese events and demand has continued to soar."

Tesco's extra mature cheddar won Gold at the British Cheese Awards in June 2017 while the Tesco mature cheddar won Gold at the Devon County Show in May 2017.

Since the new cheeses launched last autumn demand for Tesco's extra mature has risen by 40% while the mature has grown by 6%.

Peter Willes, managing director of Bideford-based Parkham Farms, said: "This has been one of the most exciting projects we've ever worked on and one which I believe is a first for the industry - creating the UK's first bespoke cheddar.

"The project has taken two years to complete and involved us working with Tesco and their customers to hear exactly what they wanted in us creating the perfect mature and extra mature cheddar.

"The work involved making changes to all areas of the cheese-making process for Tesco's mature and extra mature varieties.

"These included changing how the milk from our farmers is stored to completely overhauling how we make the cheese to arrive at the ideal varieties that Tesco customers wanted.

"We are very proud that both these cheeses have gone on to win gold medals at two of the most prestigious events in the cheese industry."