Tesco shoppers create UK’s first ever bespoke Cheddar

It’s been Britain’s favourite cheese for more than 900 years but now shoppers have made history by creating the UK’s first ever commercially produced bespoke cheddar.

The move came after Tesco called on customers and a leading British cheese producer, Parkham Farms, to help create a Cheddar cheese to delight and satisfy the palates of today’s cheese lovers.

After researching cheese flavour profiles and reviewing cheese-making techniques with the West Country cheesemaker, the retailer has come up with what it believes is the best tasting mature and extra mature own brand Cheddar cheese in the UK.

For centuries milder tasting cheddar was the most popular variety in the UK but recently the stronger mature and extra mature varieties have taken over as shoppers’ favourites.

Taste trials with more than 150 customers revealed what they now look for in a Cheddar cheese:

  • Mature- a more rounded, deeper flavour with a slight sweetness and a creamier taste
  • Extra Mature- a greater burst of flavour but with a slight sweetness and creamy taste

Tesco cheese expert Kay Legge who oversaw the project said: “The British palate is changing and in the last five years we’ve seen a dramatic shift from mild to stronger tasting Cheddar as the UK’s favourite cheese.

“For over 50 years spicier foods have become more common in our diets, and as our taste buds have acclimatised to the flavours, we see that customers now have a hankering for a deeper and more complex taste profile for their cheese.

“Involving some of our customers in the cheese-making process has been really helpful. They obviously have great taste – as both varieties have won gold medals at two major cheese events and demand has continued to soar.”

Tesco’s Extra Mature Cheddar won Gold at the British Cheese Awards in June 2017 and Silver at the International Cheese Awards held at the Nantwich Show this week while the Tesco Mature Cheddar won Gold at the Devon County Show, in May 2017. 

Since the new cheeses launched last autumn demand for Tesco’s Extra Mature has rocketed by 40 per cent while Tesco Mature has grown by six per cent.

According to retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel, demand across the UK market in the last five years for mild and medium strength cheddar has fallen by five per cent while sales of mature and extra mature have grown by 11 per cent.

The Mature and Extra Mature Cheddars are made by Parkham Farm, on the North Devon coast, where the Willis family have over 30 years of cheddar-making experience.

The 1500-acre Parkham Farm has a fine heritage; a close-knit family business specialising in fine cheeses made from milk produced on the farm itself, using traditional creamery methods.


Notes to editors:

Cheddar – some historical facts

  • Legend has it that Cheddar was discovered accidentally when a village milkmaid left a pail of milk in the Cheddar Gorge caves. When she eventually returned for it she found the milk had turned to a tasty new substance and Cheddar cheese was born.
  • Records for King Henry II show that he purchased 10,240 Ibs of Cheddar in 1170 at a cost of a farthing a pound.
  • The Cheddar Caves have the perfect 7 degree temperature needed to store the product. However the warmth of the caves attracts vermin and the cheese can no longer be kept there.
  • Queen Victoria was once presented with a Cheddar cheese which weighed 11cwt – made from the milk of over 700 cows.

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