North Yorkshire artisan cheese maker, Shepherds Purse, joins the big brands in the dairy industry on the short list for a new product award for outstanding fmcg innovation run by market leading magazine, The Grocer. Harrogate Blue cheese, the latest addition from the Bell family run dairy in Thirsk, is up against leading brands such as The Laughing Cow, Cathedral City, Philadelphia, Red Leicester and Pilgrims Choice.

Already the recipient of 5 Awards, including 3 international trophies since it was brought to market last year, Harrogate Blue is a continental style, soft blue cheese with a golden body and a mellow blue flavour with a hint of peppery spice. It is the first cheese to be launched since founder Judy Bell handed the reins over to daughters Katie and Caroline and is named after the famous Yorkshire spa town that Caroline now calls home.

The Grocer New Product Awards, now in its 2nd year, celebrates and rewards outstanding fmcg innovation in both food and non-food categories and seeks products with real star quality that are new to the market, reformulated, repositioned or added to an existing line.

Each product went through a 1st stage consumer test with 50 respondents from 6 sampling points across the UK and were rated on a number of criteria, including taste, originality, relevance to the consumer and intention to buy post-trial. Harrogate Blue will now go on to the 2nd stage evaluation by an expert panel of judges drawn from a range of disciplines. They will evaluate each successfully shortlisted entrant on a set of criteria, including taste, texture, appearance, packaging, value for money and clarity of labelling.

The launch of Harrogate Blue marked the beginning of a full re-brand and packaging re-design for Shepherds Purse, which has now been rolled out across the product range. Famous for its best selling Yorkshire Blue cheese and its range of specialist handcrafted cheeses made with ewe’s, cow’s and buffalo milk, Shepherds Purse continues to focus on quality, innovation and customer service, delivering first class, traditionally handmade cheeses to major multiples, premium wholesalers and independent delis and cheese shops.

The overall winner will be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday 1 October at the Marriott Grosvenor Square, London. Entrants will receive a consumer report worth hundreds of pounds and all winners and finalists will be able to use the award logo on packaging and marketing materials to capture consumer attention.

Commenting on the success, Caroline Bell, director, Shepherds Purse Cheeses said: “The launch of Harrogate Blue marked a new era for Shepherds Purse and it has proved to be the most successful launch in the company’s 25 year history. To be shortlisted for The Grocer’s new product award for fmcg innovation against some major cheese brands is a fantastic achievement and will help enormously in further raising the profile of Harrogate Blue across the nation.”

Pictured L-R The big cheeses at Shepherds Purse – Katie Matten, director; Judy Bell, Chairman and Caroline Bell, director.