South Caernarfon Creameries is Wales’ leading farmer owned dairy co-operative
The South Caernarfon Creameries’ story begins back to 1938 when John
Owen Roberts had a vision to see dairy farmers working together to
enable them to market their own milk. At that time, farmers were reluctant to commit; there had been other
milk co-operatives in the area that had already failed. There was
additional resistance from farmers who were selling their milk directly
to local people in the towns and villages of the Peninsula; they saw the
milk co-operative as a threat to their livelihoods. Membership back in
1938 was a tentative 63 producer members.
The site for the Creamery was carefully chosen. Rhydygwystl was
selected due to its convenient location, being on the border between
Llŷn and Eifionydd and these two areas of North West Wales were and
still are renowned for their grass growing capabilities due to enjoying
mild drifts from the gulf streams of the Atlantic. There was an old woollen mill on the site (which is where the
laboratory stands today ) that provided the ideal space to house the
milk processing equipment as well as the very first pasteurizer in the
country. Even in its infancy the Directors knew the advantages of
investing in the best and most modern technology of the time; something
that is still practised today.
During World War II, each day milk packed into churns was exported by rail from nearby Chwilog directly to the cities of North West England. This business provided a much needed boost to the Creamery who passed on the extra profits this generated as bonuses for their members.
At the end of World War II, the government realised how close the country had been to starvation during the previous five year war time. Their response was that agricultural production was to be encouraged and supported. After the war, farmers were encouraged to improve land, livestock and crops and this had a massive impact for a relatively young farmer owned co-operative like South Caernarfon Creameries. By 1954, membership of the Co-operative had increased to 1,200.
During this time the creamery set up two sister companies: Llŷn &
Eifion Retailers, which sold the milk directly through milkmen to homes
and businesses in the local area, and South Caernarfon Creameries’
Eggs, which supplied laying pullets and eggs from members’ farms to be
sold on by the milkmen.
Milk production and quality standards improved dramatically in the
latter part of the 1950’s and again South Caernarfon Creameries was
leading the way by paying farmers to produce cleaner and higher quality
Cheese in Production 1959
Milk production reached a record high and it was decided in the late
1950’s that cheese would be a good option for the surplus milk. The site
began production in 1959 creating the brand ‘Caws Llŷn’. This proved to
be a popular brand which is still recognised locally today.
Today, 12,000 tonnes of cheese is made on site each year.
60 years of cheese making
Despite being well known for producing high quality cheddar, however
over the past 60 years the Creamery has been producing different
In the early 1970’s Feta was produced and exported to Greece!
In the late 1970’s Idwal Lloyd Jones, then General Manager took a
trip to Wisconsin in the USA and returned with a new cheese recipe –
Monterey Jack. This cheese has been a great success and become a key
A Lighter Cheddar was launched in 2012, 30% lower in fat than the standard Dragon mature cheese range.
Today, the range is extensive: a choice of Cheddars, from mild and
creamy to vintage that is matured on site for up to 18 months.
Traditional territorial cheese such as Double Gloucester, Red Leicester
and of course, Welsh Caerphilly.
More about butter
For much of it’s time, South Caernarfon Creameries has produced butter “Menyn Eifion”. In 2011, the Creamery once again invested in a traditional butter churn. The £350,000 investment ensured that Welsh butter could be made authentically and provided the flexibility in recipes and with the salt content.
Awarded for Agriculture
South Caernarfon Creameries has been recognised as a forward-thinking
co-operative that has been loyal to its members who in turn have worked
tirelessly to ensure its success. In the early 1970’s, founder, J.O. Roberts received the MBE for his
foresight and drive in setting up a successful dairy co-operative and
his services to Welsh agriculture.
South Caernarfon Creameries remains on its original site near Chwilog on the border of the picturesque Llŷn Peninsula.