From Oamaru to Paris: First NZ specialty cheese hits French shelves

A New Zealand specialty cheese is being sold in France, in a first for the industry.

Oamaru-based Whitestone Cheese has cleared New Zealand's first consignment of specialty cheese into France, its flagship Vintage Windsor Blue making up the bulk of an order shipped to its new Paris-based distributor.

The blue cheese now sits on shelves in Europe, alongside old-world classics such as Roquefort, Stilton and Gorgonzola. 

Managing director Simon Berry said it is exciting to be shipping back to Europe, where cheese-making was established.

"Vintage Windsor Blue has always achieved international recognition, to have it now being shipped to France is a fantastic result for us and New Zealand," he said. 

After visiting France last year while carrying a round of Vintage Windsor Blue in their suitcase, Mr Berry and head cheesemaker Chris Moran soon realised the potential for market development after watching French cheesemakers' reactions when trying their cheese. 

Vintage Windsor Blue is being sold in France, and throughout Europe.
Vintage Windsor Blue is being sold in France, and throughout Europe. Photo credit: Supplied

The company developed its own distinct Windsor Blue mould strain that delivers a "sweet finish" not found in any other blue cheese. Mr Berry says this, combined with a full cream recipe and six months maturing, provides a unique, sought-after flavour and texture.

Working alongside the NZ Consulate and Paris NZTE office, Whitestone established a Paris-based distributor who supplies both France and other markets throughout Europe. 

The first pallet-sized consignment was pre-sold to multiple customers, and a follow-up order is expected in the new year.

Whitestone Cheese sources its milk from local North Otago farms, produces 25 cheese varieties and employs over 50 staff locally.

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