Picture by Press Eye Photography
Pictured (L – R) are Richard McDowell, managing director, Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food director, and Paul McClean, Farmview Dairies.
Farmview Dairies in Castlereagh is being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to produce and market, particularly outside Northern Ireland, an artisan blue cheese.
The company, a longstanding supplier of fresh milk, buttermilk, cream and orange juice to foodservice organisations and independent retailers throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, has teamed up with artisan producer Paul McClean to develop and market Kearney Blue Cheese.
Assistance for the speciality cheese project was announced by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Director of Food and Tourism during a visit to the company, which was established in 1987. He was briefed about Kearney Blue Cheese and the company’s commitment to artisan production techniques by Richard McDowell, Managing Director of family owned and managed dairy business. Invest NI is providing assistance of almost £15,000 towards the new cheese development.
Mr Mawhinney said: “Our financial support will enable this successful company to extend its product portfolio and to bring the speciality cheese to a much wider market in Northern Ireland and further afield. It demonstrates our commitment to encourage and assist local companies to explore new business opportunities in different sectors especially for premium dairy products.
“The development is a further boost for the rapidly developing artisanal products sector here through the association with a successful cheese maker who has already gained international awards for Kearney Blue. The speciality cheese was developed with assistance from the food team on the Loughry campus of the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise, near Cookstown.
“Farmview Dairies has provided a modern and well-equipped facility for processing the soft cheese and has an established network of customers to ensure the success of this premium and largely handcrafted product in its target markets including the Republic of Ireland,” he added.
Mr McDowell said: “We were attracted to Kearney Blue because it is a magnificent and totally different cheese with immense potential as a premium product.
“We’ve had a business relationship with Mr McClean from the very start of his business through his decision to use the milk that we source from 11 dairy farms in the area surrounding our processing plant. We saw an opportunity to work with him in the further development and to contribute to the long term success of Kearney Blue. This interest led to an agreement with Mr McClean and the construction of a dedicated cheese room that conforms with European food hygiene requirements.
“While our focus will be on increasing sales and production, it will remain a handcrafted and artisanal cheese. We’ve examined speciality cheese production techniques in France, Germany and Austria and been influenced by the approach of producers in these countries.”
Mr McClean, who began developing Kearney Blue Cheese at Loughry in 2010 and will continue to produce the cheese for Farmview, said: “The new relationship provides greater scope to develop the blue cheese and to explore opportunities for other speciality cheeses.
“Kearney Blue, however, will remain the principal cheese. Above all, the new production facilities at Farmview are enabling me to meet the growing demand for the cheese particularly from hotels, restaurants and high-end delis. It will also remain essentially a handcrafted and premium quality cheese.”