Educating palates: The campaign to become a big cheese

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The Independent Online
English cheese-makers will be up against more than stiff competition in their bid to crack the French market, they will be faced by widespread ignorance, writes Julia Kaminski.

According to The British Embassy, the main aim of the campaign - the launch of which it hosted last month - is to "educate the public about British cheese."

Do they need educating?

Jacques Stoufflet, a French journalist, says: "I didn't know English cheese existed."

Said the embassy: "In all honesty, the domestic market for cheese in the UK is much smaller than the French market. We are just not the cheese- eaters the French are. As a result, sales of British cheese in France are tiny."

Marks & Spencer, the main outlet for British cheese in France through its 20 stores, says cheese accounts for 2 per cent of total food sales. Eric Barraud, merchandiser for prepared and dairy foods, adds: "Our share of the French cheese market is .000 something. Too small to measure. But in volume terms, we sold 125 tons of English cheese last year."

The next push in the campaign comes later this month with a drive into Marseilles and Lyon, and then on to Lille in June and Bordeaux in September.