Saputo to buy British cheesemaker Wensleydale

Canadian dairy firm expands U.K. assets

Video screengrab of Michael Palin (l) and John Cleese in the Cheese Shop sketch on Monty Python’s Flying Circus in 1972.

One of the world’s largest dairy processors is set to expand its reach further into the U.K. with a deal for the maker of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.

Montreal-based Saputo announced Monday it has an all-cash deal in place to buy Wensleydale Dairy Products Ltd. for 23 million pounds (about C$39.7 million).

Pending U.K. regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to close in the second half of this month, after which Wensleydale, which has about 210 employees at two North Yorkshire plants, would join Saputo’s U.K. dairy division as part of its Europe sector.

Saputo said the Wensleydale product line, which is exported worldwide, “will complement and broaden the company’s existing range of British cheeses” such as Cathedral City and Davidstow cheddars.

The Wensleydale business sources its milk from 40 North Yorkshire-area farms and uses its own unique cheesemaking starter cultures, Saputo said.

Wensleydale “is home to an immense amount of passion, care, and tradition,” Saputo CEO Lino Saputo said in Monday’s release.

Wensleydale was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission in late 2013 “to protect the authenticity of its Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese,” the British company noted.

European PGI status recognizes the “distinctive qualities” of the cheese as well as the geographical area in which the cheese is made, “in its rightful home of Wensleydale,” the company said last month.

Last month, the company noted it would also seek status for Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese under the recently introduced U.K. geographical indication (GI) schemes to “help shoppers differentiate it over other Wensleydale cheeses, made in other counties.”

“Our creamy, crumbly iconic Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese is extremely important to us and something we are proud to protect. It is important for us and our loyal customers that it is handcrafted here in its rightful home of Wensleydale,” Sandra Bell, the British company’s marketing manager, said in a release at the time.

“The GI schemes and logos are essential to differentiating unique British brands on-shelf, ensuring we continue to protect the authentic heritage and provenance of handcrafted Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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Editor, Daily News

Dave Bedard

Editor, Daily News, Glacier FarmMedia Network. A Saskatchewan transplant in Winnipeg.



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