Wyke Farms expansion to double cheese capacity

Wyke Farms has secured planning permission to rebuild its dairy, allowing it to double its cheddar output and grow its successful export business.

The business will create a new state-of-the-art production facility at Bruton in Somerset, which should create opportunities for more farmers within the region to join Wyke’s supplier base.

The redevelopment of the dairy is part of an ambitious plan for growth for the family-owned company, which currently has about 110 farmer suppliers.

See also: Wyke Farms seeks more producers to join export revolution 

The aim is to increase its brand presence in export markets in preparation for post-Brexit trade and will involve launching new export-targeted products throughout 2019.

Richard Clothier, Wyke Farms managing director, said: “Our strategy of selling into a growing export market has been very successful. It generates revenue that allows us to mitigate against the risks that a volatile dairy sector and a disrupted UK retail sector may bring.

“The new dairy is crucial to facilitate the growth and meet global demand.”

Wyke Farms currently sells more than 15,000t of cheese annually to more than 160 countries.

A spokesperson for the company said the redevelopment project would take nearly eight years to complete, because it would need to be carried out in phases to allow the business to stay operational.

Farmer suppliers

The company is already in the process of recruiting additional suppliers as its sales grow.

“We hope that if sales continue to grow, we can recruit in the region of 15-20 producers a year extra.

“There won’t be a minimum volume [required], it will be about how they fit into our collection fields.”

The business is paying 28.65p/litre for a standard litre (4% butterfat and 3.3% protein), which will reduce to 28p/litre for February 2019.

Wyke Farm results

Wyke Farms saw turnover rise by 26% in the year ending 31 March 2018, to a record-breaking high of £85m.

However, against a backdrop of what it called a “very challenging retail landscape”, post-tax profits were down on the previous year – from £2.3m in 2017 to £1.65m in 2018.

The company is very focused on increasing exports, with a growth plan that aims to push the business to a £100m turnover in 2018-19.

The business has three main sources of revenue – cheese, food ingredients and large-scale renewables.

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