Baron Bigod: Suffolk dairy farmer on the cheese that secured his future

  • Watch a full report from ITV News Anglia's Rob Setchell.

A decade ago, Jonny Crickmore was tired, frustrated and worried.

Milk prices had plunged and the third-generation dairy farmer, from Bungay in Suffolk, feared for the future of his family business.

Then one evening, sat with friends in a restaurant, he joked about the possibility of starting a "side project" - producing his own cheese at Fen Farm Dairy.

Ten years on and that "side project" - Baron Bigod Brie - is enjoyed all over the world.

"The growth has been beyond our wildest dreams," said Jonny.

"We were going through an episode of really poor milk prices. I just saw the future of our business as really under pressure.

"There was a real risk of us not actually being dairy farmers any more. It was a mix of various things that came together to make us look at creating something ourselves."

Baron Bigod cheese from Bungay in Suffolk. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Jonny bought Montbéliarde cattle and hired a French cheese consultant. Now he sells Baron Bigod all over France.

The farm's Bungay Butter is also particularly popular in Japan, he says.

Meanwhile, Baron Bigod has featured on the menus of celebrity chefs and royal weddings.

In the first year, 2013, they produced four tonnes of cheese. This year they will make about 150.

It comes as Britain's cheese-makers break the mould - the UK now produces more varieties of hand-made, artisan cheese than the French.

"We've now got this revival in the UK of British cheese," said Jonny.

"We're at this exciting stage where you've got lots of small, independent businesses with this huge variety of British cheese.

"Whereas you look at France - now don't get me wrong, they make amazing cheese - but all of those companies are big companies. You do lose some of that little specialness."