Somerdale’s Stephen Jones has been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at British Cheese Awards dinner held at the Bath and West Show this week.
As co-founder of Somerdale International, one of the UK’s leading cheese exporters, Stephen’s award is recognition of the significant contribution he has made in raising the international profile of British cheese.
Receiving the award from restaurant critic, Charles Campion and Mike Pullin, Director of Barbers & Ford Farm who sponsored the Awards’ dinner, Stephen Jones said, “I’m very honoured to receive this Award as it recognises the work that I, my business partner Ernie Waldron and all the team at Somerdale International have undertaken over the past 26 years in raising the profile and sales of British cheese across the globe. I accept this award on their behalf.”
Stephen Jones has spent his entire working life in the food and more specifically the dairy sector. In the late 1970s he worked as a buyer for Sainsbury’s mainly in the yoghurt, butter & margarine categories. In the early 1980s he joined Dairyvale based in Reigate which focused on trading in milk powders and dairy products to the Caribbean, Far East, Middle East and speciality cheese to the USA.
At Dairyvale Stephen met his now long-term business partner Ernie Waldron and in 1990 they set up Somerdale International together. Based on Westpark 26, Somerdale now has a turnover of over £32 million. It provides an effective route to the international market for over 250 British cheeses made in some of the country’s leading creameries – including traditional Cheddars, blue cheeses, flavoured cheeses and traditional hand-made, artisan cheeses. It is the leading exporter of British cheese to the USA with shipments leaving for New York every week. It has also grown its presence in key markets such as China and the Far East, the Caribbean, Australia and in emerging markets such as the Middle East, North Africa and Brazil.
Somerdale International was honoured with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in April this year, an award it also received in 2009.