DEFRA Minister Victoria Prentis visited Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes to highlight the introduction of a new scheme to protect traditional UK produce.

The UK Geographical Indication (GI) schemes are the bedrock of the government’s strategy to protect traditional, local foods by giving unique products of origin the recognition they deserve.

The Wensleydale Creamery was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission in December 2013 to protect the authenticity of its Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.

This status recognises the distinctive qualities of its famous cheese, created using traditional techniques and a time-honoured recipe.

Importantly, the status recognises the geographical area in which the cheese is made, in its rightful home of Wensleydale.

The introduction of the new UK GI schemes will reaffirm true Yorkshire Wensleydale credentials and help shoppers differentiate it over other Wensleydale cheeses, made in other counties.

During her visit to the Creamery, Ms Prentis tried her hand at cheesemaking and cheese grading and toured the Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience. She stopped at the viewing gallery to watch the Creamery’s master cheesemakers in action.

Ms Prentis, who was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DFRA in February 2020, said: “It was fantastic to visit the Wensleydale Creamery, home to the original Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese, to learn more about its history as one of the major UK Geographical Indication producers.

“Sites such as the Creamery are major providers of rural jobs, contributing millions of pounds to local economies across the UK.

“Everyone should try more of the UK’s excellent local and regional produce, and I hope to see more producers sign up to our new GI schemes, which protects products with special quality, provenance and heritage.”

Sandra Bell, marketing manager at the Creamery, said: “We welcome Minster Prentis’s visit and her support for protecting iconic British foods through the new GI schemes.”

Ms Bell said it was important for the firm and its loyal customers that the cheese is handcrafted in its rightful home of Wensleydale and is recognised for that.