Cosyn Cymru is an exciting new dairy venture initiated by Dr Carrie Rimes. She is passionate about the rich flavours and textures of sheep’s milk products, utilising her extensive knowledge of cheese-making from her travels around the artisan Fromageries of rural France.
Carrie has always been fascinated by cheese since her initial attempts at cheese-making on her parents’ dairy farm in Devon. But at the time, opportunities were limited and Carrie followed an alternative career in grassland conservation. More recently, following several cheese-making courses, a change of career path eventually became possible. She then gained more experience in cheese-making by working her way around the Fromageries of France, before returning and developing a hard cheese at the Food Technology Centre (FTC) on behalf of another company. However, the lure of France returned and she went back for three more years of practical hands-on experience of making cheese, using cow’s, sheep and goat’s milk.
“Experience in France was second to none … with the chance to run a small dairy making a range of cheeses … working with other producers and the local college on a project to improve the quality of the regional cheeses … what an opportunity!”
Her product range is diverse, including a soft lactic-type cheese, a range of several hard cheeses, set yogurts, ice cream and frozen yogurt. Her aim is to bring something innovative to the area, selling at the newly re-opened farmshop at a co-operative community enterprise, Ffarm Moelyci at Tregarth, close to her home village of Bethesda.
Support Provided by the FTC
Carrie had first established her links with FTC when working for Bodnant Welsh Food to develop a hard cheese. She then knew where to come on her return to North Wales following her travels across France, working in various Fromageries. She felt that the time was right to return to her roots and start her own business making the products that she was so passionate about. For Carrie, it had to be cheeses made with raw milk, to give maximum potential for the unique flavours to come through, and the gap in the market was clearly for sheep’s milk products.
“I had the product concepts in my head but what worked in France didn’t necessarily translate directly into a Welsh situation. We spent several months in intensive trials to get the products exactly right.”
Whilst Carrie already had clear plans for making various types of cheese, she needed to be confident that they would work with sheep’s milk. The trials proved their success and finalised the procedures. But not content with just cheese, Carrie was also trained in producing yogurts and ice cream. The set yogurts worked particularly well with the high solids content of the milk. Some milk was separated to make authentic sheep’s cream for the ice cream, and the remaining skimmed milk made an excellent strained fat-free frozen yogurt, giving a luxurious yet healthy combination with local fresh fruit purees.
The product development trials received 100% financial support as a micro business through Axis One of the Supply Chain Efficiencies Rural Development Plan.
Support was also provided to gain approval to commence production from the FTC’s dairy. This involved extensive documentation of all the processes and policies involved in the manufacture of safe products.
“I’m not sure I’d have survived the approval process without help from FTC. To have a strong helping hand to prepare the necessary documentation was one of the most important steps of the process.”
Finally, the products were shelf-life tested and advice given on labelling. The products were then ready to roll out, and Carrie began hiring the FTC dairy on a regular basis to independently commence manufacturing.
Benefit of the Support
The main benefit of the support is that Carrie has been able to develop a wide range of products in-house, with all the facilities and expertise available on-site.
“Without the help and support of FTC, I probably wouldn’t be producing sheep’s milk products today.”
Carrie has launched the yogurts and ice cream at the farm shop at Ffarm Moelyci and the cheese range will be following close behind. At the site, she now has her own cheese store, in which her hard cheeses are left to mature. Her ultimate ambition is being fulfilled with plans underway for construction of a dairy on the Moelyci site, from where Carrie will manufacture in the future. Her plans also include convincing one or more local farmers to take on the husbandry of a flock of milking sheep.
“A number of farmers have expressed a keen interest but all need to see a thriving dairy outlet before taking the plunge.”