It's enough to make a Frenchman choke on his Roquefort. Sales of British blue cheeses are outselling their French counterparts for the first time, according to Britain's biggest food retailer.
Stilton: not just being eaten at Christmas, according to sales figures
By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor7:00AM GMT 18 Dec 2010
The French pride themselves on the diversity and range of their cheeses, but it would appear that British shoppers have learnt to embrace home-made varieties with a greater passion.
Sales of British blue cheese, which for many meant no more than a taste of Stilton once a year on Christmas day, have rocketed this year, according to Tesco.
The supermarket said it had sold 16 per cent more British blue cheese than French blue cheese over the last 12 months.
Consumers are increasingly embracing Blue Wensleydale, Yorkshire Blue, Blacksticks Blue, and Shropshire Blue all year round, rather than just a slice of festive Stilton.
The supermarket's sales figures are backed up by market data from Kantar Worldpanel, the research company, which said imports of French blue cheese fell by 1 per cent over the last year, but sales of British blues, across all outlets, increased by 4 per cent.
The British blue cheese market now amounts to annual sales of £33 million.
The success of British cheeses is part of a steady trend for shoppers to buy more local food, and for British producers to seek European protected status. Stilton is now accorded the same protection as Parma Ham and champagne.
Nigel White, secretary of the British Cheese Board said: "British Blue Cheeses – of which there are more than 70 named types – continue to perform well and it’s great to see how the British consumer is looking to buy more locally produced cheeses in their supermarkets and local outlets.
“Our blue cheeses are increasingly being acknowledged as amongst the best in the world."