Artisan cheese producers in Northern Ireland are being assisted to grow sales by a new marketing and product development operation involving innovations such as cheese wedding cakes.
Slemish Cheese Company has been developed to market local cheeses through its participation in major markets such as the award winning St George’s in Belfast and through the development of original products such as bespoke cheese wedding cakes.
The company is part of the successful Tom and Ollie artisan business which has been marketing Mediterranean-style ingredients at farmers’ markets and food shows around Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for many years.
Tom and Ollie, which is based at Broughshane in county Antrim, also produces ingredients such as salsa, roasted tomatoes and wild garlic for an original wild Irish garlic pesto.
Slemish Cheese’s Tracey O’Boyle says: ‘There’s tremendous interest developing in Northern Ireland’s emerging artisan cheese because of their outstanding flavours and variety. Among our most popular is Young Buck, an award winning blue cheese that’s produced by Mike’s Fancy Cheese in Newtownards, county Down.
“While the Tom and Ollie business has always had a strong cheese offering, as well as a huge range of Mediterranean foods, especially olives and hummus, we formed Slemish Cheese Company, which is also based at Broughshane, to develop different products such as our multi-layered cheese wedding cakes.
“The bespoke cakes can be dressed with other products such as fruit and dates for different flavours.
“The cakes are proving a popular extension of our business and have enabled us to develop our expertise in Irish cheese. The cheese cakes are made by us in consultation with each bride. Each layer can feature a different variety of cheese.
“We’ll be looking at other products that we can create using Irish artisan cheese over the next few months. We also have our own smoker for developing original flavours.
“We work closely with cheese makers to help them in developing their sales by creating original ideas for their expertise,” she adds.