Establishing an innovation centre to develop new cheese varieties is paying dividends for Long Clawson, the Melton Mowbray-based farmer-owned cheesemaker by helping the firm win new business from major supermarkets.

The new centre has enabled Long Clawson to trial new blended cheese varieties based on its White Stilton cheese.

Recent successes include White Stilton mixed with cranberry and White Stilton blended with Champagne and rhubarb, with the latter product developed for Tesco’s Finest range.

While the dairy’s traditional market has been the area’s native cheese – Blue Stilton – to make maximum use of facilities it is aiming to develop more markets for blended products.

“This will make the company less dependent on the traditional Blue Stilton market which has historically seen 35% of the company’s trade done in the last six weeks of the year for the Christmas market,” said a spokesman.

Using 48m litres of milk per year, Long Clawson makes about 4500t of cheese per year.

Recent investment in new vats, part of a £7m expansion programme, has meant the company is now able to offer its customers, including all the major retailers, a more consistent product meaning consumers are assured of a quality cheese every time they buy.