Award winning artisan cheese-maker Jackie Whittaker of Castell Gwyn Limited is expanding her North Wales manufacturing business with a £13,000 investment in her own micro-dairy.
The micro loan from the Development Bank of Wales means that Jackie, a life-long cheese-lover and regular judge at the International Cheese Awards, will be purchasing a 500 litre cheese vat and cheese press that will allow her to scale production of her soft cheeses and also start producing hard cheeses.
Castell Gwyn supplies local delis, speciality cheese shops, farm shops and restaurants including the Gwinllan Conwy Vineyard and Bryn Williams’ bistro in Porth Eirias. Her award-winning cheeses are also available online.
Jackie Whittaker explains: “I’ve been producing and selling cheese for a few years now, having first started up at the Food Technology Centre on Anglesey, then renting a dairy in Llandudno. I have now built a bespoke micro dairy. The vision was always to build my own dairy and for Castell Gwyn to become a recognised brand.
“I produce a range of fresh, award winning soft spreadable cheeses with delicious flavours. The freshness of the milk, collected from our friends at Mostyn Dairies makes Castell Gwyn cheese a luxury product as we use Jersey-Cross cow’s milk. This helps keep our food miles extremely low. We operate high environmental health standards and have been accredited a 5* food hygiene rating by Denbighshire County Council and we are also in the process of gaining SALSA accreditation (Safe and Local Supplier Approval).
“The success of my soft flavoured cheeses means that the time is right to scale-up and grow the business by increasing capacity, but I simply couldn’t be thinking about growth without the support of the Development Bank and the addition of a 500 litre cheese vat. Their finance is helping me to make the transition to a business looking to compete in the national market space and that help has been invaluable. I’m pleased that they believe in my business and its potential.”
Alex Baines is an investment executive with the Development Bank of Wales. He said: “Jackie has got the passion and drive to turn her love of cheese in to a successful business that showcases the very best local produce that North Wales has to offer. Our micro-loan finance means that she now has the facilities and capacity to develop Castell Gwyn and maximise the growth potential.”
The £30 million Wales Micro Loan Fund is financed by the Welsh Government. Loans between £1,000 and £50,000 are available with repayment terms ranging from one to ten years. Small businesses, sole traders and social enterprises based in Wales, or willing to move to Wales, can apply.