Stilton cheese under threat as young people 'afraid to eat the mould'
The future of Stilton cheese is under threat because young people are afraid to eat the mould, according to a new report.Sales of Blue Stilton have plummeted among younger age groups with most people who buy the traditional delicacy approaching middle age, the latest research shows.
Industry experts say that the number of people under the age of 45 buying Blue Stilton has dropped by 18 per cent in the last two years alone.
Consumption by those under 30 years of age has slumped by 23 per cent and few people under the age of 25 would consider buying it regularly.
But cheese experts are warning that if the trend continues it could mean that Blue Stilton, which has been in production in the UK for almost 300 years, would only be available overseas.
Now British supermarket The Co-op has decided to step in to lend British Stilton producers a helping hand and has issued an emergency SOS – Save Our Stilton – to the people of Britain to protect Blue Stilton's unique flavours and taste for the future.
Cooperative cheese buyer Mark Cloudy said: "This cheese is part of Britain's heritage. We can't stand by and let it fade away – yet the people who like it are getting old.
"Millions of young people have been taught not to eat food with mould on it, and that view is having a catastrophic effect upon Blue Stilton. They take one look at the blue veins running through the cheese and then turn away.
"Ironically, while Blue Stilton is declining in popularity in Britain, overseas buyers can't get enough of it. The cheese is regarded as a supreme delicacy in Europe and across America, with buyers prepared to pay up to £30 a kilo – over three times the UK price.
The Cooperative, which actively supports British producers, is calling upon leading TV chefs to join their campaign to save the traditional cheese, as well as producing new customer recipes which using Stilton, it believes that the likes of Jamie Oliver, Heston Blumenthal and Nigel Slater have can play a vital role in making Stilton great again.
Mr Cloudy said: "Cookery programmes are watched by millions of people every week. Seeing British chefs using Blue Stilton would help a new generation of consumers to discover what a wonderful ingredient Blue Stilton is.
"We also want to make the cheese popular again to help British cheese producers. Local companies employing local people depend upon Stilton sales to make a living.
"We hope that our campaign will help Blue Stilton cheese makers of all sizes continue to thrive for decades to come" Industry expert say that the number of people under the age of 45 buying Blue Stilton has dropped by 18 per cent in the last two years alone."
Consumption by those under 30 years of age has dropped by 23 per cent. And few people under the age of 25 would consider buying it regularly.
Blue Stilton was first produced in Britain in 1730 and is named after the village of Stilton where the cheese was first made.
Blue mould is encouraged to grow on the cheese deliberately to create a distinctive acidic tang which blends perfectly with the cheese's rich, creamy texture – and it is perfectly safe to eat.
So highly regarded is the cheese that it is the only British variety to have been granted protected trademark status. Only Stilton made from pasteurised cows milk in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire can legally use the name.
Just five dairies currently make the cheese.
Traditionally Blue Stilton is eaten with port at Christmas, but is often used in classic recipes such as Stilton and Pear salad, and cream of celery or broccoli soup.
To enjoy the full flavours of Blue Stilton, it should be removed from the refrigerator approximately one hour before serving, to let the cheese reach room temperature.