Connage Highland Dairy, a top cheese producer that farms its own organic dairy herd near Inverness, has been awarded The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum’s Ambassador of the Year 2015 at the Forum’s annual awards ceremony on Friday.
The annual award recognises the outstanding contribution of individuals in the Highlands and Islands food and drink sector, recognising innovative, forward thinking and collaborative enterprise, and celebrating excellence and achievement.
Connage Dairy owners Jill and Callum Clark are delighted with their new accolade. Callum is the second generation to run the dairy, with his brother Cameron and wife Eileen running the farm and the herd. Over the last decade Callum and Jill have expanded the farm business into a highly respected and acclaimed cheese producer. Their wide range of cheeses can be found in many national delicatessens, restaurants and high end outlets, as well as having a strong presence on the international food and drink platform. Callum and Jill have also opened The Cheese Pantry, a shop and cafe/restaurant situated at the dairy, so visitors can watch the cheesemaking process from a viewing gallery, sample the full Connage range and the many other cheeses selected seasonally for sale in the shop, and enjoy a full Connage cheeseboard with locally produced accompaniments in the cafe. The full range of cheeses is also available to buy online along with a selection of Scottish oatcakes and accompaniments, cheese presentation items and gifts.
Connage Dairy makes a concerted effort to support the local and wider Highland community, sponsoring young sportsmen, contributing to charity events and promoting other local produce alongside their own. They are present at most Scottish trade shows, promoting the pure organic simplicity of their cheeses that gain a unique richness from the clover-fed Holstein Friesian herd. Jill is also at the forefront of the Scottish Dairy Board’s new export initiative, and is an active member of Scotland Food & Drink, contributing her experience of developing a dairy business into a commercial success, and supporting the efforts of organic cheese producers nationally.
Jill, who runs The Cheese Pantry and the online business, commented:
“We are delighted to receive the Ambassador award and are honoured by the accolade. It is very humbling to have our national participation and cooperation efforts recognised by a key organisation like the Food & Drink Forum.
While the consistent production and quality of our cheeses is the focus of our daily business, it is essential that we continue to ensure that organic dairy produce is at the forefront of Scotland’s food & drink agenda, and that Scottish foodstuffs gain the global recognition they deserve.”
The award was presented to Callum and Jill on Friday evening at the annual Highlands & Islands Food & Drink awards, and adds to an extensive collection of national and international awards for taste and quality of their unique cheeses.