News & views
Should artisanal cheese cost more than fillet steak?
Yesterday I visited my local deli* which had - as it often does - a visiting producer handing out samples. In this case it was a Shropshire producer called Moydens which makes a delicious gooey blue called Wrekin Blue.
I like to support small producers and loved the cheese so bought it without checking the price. When I got back I spotted on my receipt that it cost £34.95 a kilo.
OK, I only bought a small piece - for £3.98 - but £34.95! That’s as much, if not more than fillet steak!
As someone with a serious cheese habit I’m aware that cheese is expensive. A good cheeseboard can easily top £30. I also know cheese is expensive to produce and that in the case of European cheeses has to travel a long way under temperature-controlled conditions but this cheese hadn’t come that far.
Delis are under pressure from supermarkets so have to focus on more expensive handmade products and need knowledgeable staff to sell them but still .... The estimable Fine Cheese Company only charges £24.95 a kilo for Colston Bassett Stilton (which admittedly isn’t unpasteurised but an excellent cheese).
I checked the price of Wrekin Blue online, You can find it for £5.50 for 200g at the Liverpool Cheese Company (quick calculation - that’s £27.50 a kg) and even less at the Green Fields Farm Shop which sells it at £21.90. (Yes, I know they don’t have the overheads of a city centre shop. They also sound as if they’re local to Moydens in Shropshire)
Criticising small producers and local shops feels like letting the side down. But I’ll say the unsayable. Charging this kind of money for British cheese, however good, is a rip-off. however well-heeled (or crazily food-obsessed) your clientele. Overcharging your regulars is just plain short-sighted. They'll buy less or less often - or simply not buy from you at all.
Do you find cheese expensive and does it put you off shopping at cheese shops? And if you’re a producer or deli feel free to tell me that I’m being unfair!
*Incidentally not everything they sell is expensive. You can buy great farmhouse butter for £1.30 a pack - considerably cheaper than most supermarkets.
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