Dairy Farmers of Britain believes it has struck gold with the latest development from its Lubborn Creamery near Chard, Somerset.
The first 2.25kg rounds of its new Channel Island Brie were rolling out of the packing machine this week after 10 days of ripening, destined for independent stores around the country.
Lubborn general manager Dominic Mullan said the new Brie was already selling ahead of expectations at Marks & Spencer, where it was available in own-label wedges.
“We saw the opportunity to produce a more luxurious, creamy version of our staple Somerset Brie, but produced from Jersey and Guernsey milk sourced within 25 miles of the factory.”
The prize-winning cheese is competing with premium French offerings, such as Brie de Meaux, and it is 30% more expensive than the standard Somerset Brie at about £9.50/kg, he said.
“That is because the cows give more butterfat, but 60% less volume than black-and-whites, so it is more expensive to produce.”
The £7m factory was built four years ago and has the capacity to produce for a further three or four years at 20% growth in sales, said Mr Mullan.
Lubborn also produces Capricorn goats’ cheese, which has seen steady sales growth of 15% for at least 10 years, and a stronger Camembert cheese.
The ultra-efficient dairy processes 14m litres of milk a years from 25 local farmers, and also serves as a hub for Sainsbury’s other West Country producers, including Denhay bacon and Rhodda clotted cream in Cornwall.
DFB is looking at developing new products such as Brie with fruit fillings or herb coating and even shaped cheese.
But the first off the production line is likely to be a stronger goats’ cheese for M&S, provisionally known as Somerset Barnstormer.
Later this year, DFB is planning a big campaign to boost its brand image and hopes more of its cheese will go into supermarkets with the new DFB logo.
With retail sales of £140m a year, the dairy co-op already claims the brand is well recognised.
“We are working out internally how to go forward with our branding,” said Mr Mullan.
“We want to tell the story of DFB later in the year, that our products are fresh from the countryside and local.”