“How Much?!” she said as I told her the price of the cheese she had chosen from the fridge. She didn’t buy it. She left the shop talking loudly to her friends about how expensive that piece of cheese was. It had been a busy week with the shop, tasting events and a wedding fayre. My energy levels were so low at that moment, I just couldn’t switch to sales mode, I needed a coffee!
Sometimes I feel I have to justify the pricing, explain and educate people. I’m not a supermarket and these are not supermarket cheese. The one that was picked was also a ewe’s milk cheese. If you think how much milk you can get from a cow and compare to that of a sheep it will give you some idea of why there is a cost difference there. Supermarkets do have bully power to push prices down. I don’t want to bully my cheese makers for cheaper prices! Cheese making is hard, hot and labour intensive. If I asked someone in the street “would you work for less wages?” they would laugh in my face, but that’s the same thing, right? It also makes me think, how much would you pay for a pint or a gin & tonic in a bar? It’s the same price as a piece of cheese (which you could share if you wanted) but why does the cheese seemingly have less value than a bar drink?
Let’s say you fancy staring up your own cheese business making local Welsh cheese. Your going to need some good quality local Welsh milk. This means you need a farmer who takes good care of his cattle. Next you will need a surgically clean facility to make the cheese with a lot of equipment. If you’re making an aged cheese you might not be able to sell it for 6 months to a year (it’s along time to wait for wages). Then the cost of packaging and marketing. This then goes on to be sold at The Little Cheesemonger in Rhuddlan who will obviously have to add their price to the cost to cover shop rent, electricity yada yada yada.
Next time you buy a piece of artisan cheese from a small local business give yourself A PAT ON THE BACK. You’ve put money in a lot of people’s pockets. You’ve paid the farmer to feed and take care of the cows, sheep or goats. You’ve keep a cheese maker and a cheesemonger in employment and you get to enjoy something tasty at the end of the chain.
Thank you for keeping our high street here in Rhuddlan alive.