Wyke Farms is doubling its production capacity as it looks to expand into new markets overseas. The cheddar cheesemaker is increasing its storage space for its vintage cheese, expanding its distribution space to prep for shipping orders abroad, and planning to up its production capacity from 17,000 tonnes to 40,000 tonnes.
The move comes in the wake of Brexit, which Owner Richard Clothier revealed to BBC News has created a concerning European market. As a result, Clothier is bolstering his Wincanton, Somerset-based dairy and eyeing opportunities in China, India, and the United States.
“On the Brexit front, obviously we are concerned about the European market, but in business, we need some certainty now,” said Clothier. “We need to know the direction of travel and we’ll have to adapt our strategy based on whatever we get—we have to pick ourselves up and then get on and sell cheese…We’re rebuilding the dairy to make it super energy efficient, and we can up-skill some of the jobs and take out some of the manual labor.”
One way Wyke Farms is removing the brunt of its manual labor is by adding robotics to its operations as a means to transport cheese more easily.
“When I started making cheese it was normal to lift 30 kilo blocks all day, but nowadays maybe they’re not quite as strong enough as they used to be,” Clothier said. “We developed some different ways of packing so we can extend the shelf life, in some cases up to a year, which enables us to ship anywhere in the world.”
The project is partly funded by a $1.68 million (£1.3m) grant from Defra, which helps UK-based companies expand their businesses post-Brexit, according to BBC. Wyke Farms’ expansion will be completed in phases over the next eight years.
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