The closure of Fivemiletown Creamery brings an end to over 100 years of history in the Co Tyrone village.
Dale Farm, who bought the speciality cheese brand in 2014, said they still plan to ensure the “brand remains active”.
The firm say they will continue to produce “Fivemiletown goat’s cheese” but it won’t be made in the village of Fivemiletown anymore. Instead, production is being moved around 65 miles away to Cullybackey in Co Antrim.
And the closure of the Co Tyrone facility brings a history of dairy produce associated with Fivemiletown stretching back over 100 years to an end.
A generation before the creation of Northern Ireland, two farming co-operatives were merged – Fivemiletown and Brookeborough – to bring together 95 farmers at the boundaries of counties Fermanagh and Tyrone.
This was just a few short years after Unionist MP and farming co-operative pioneer Sir Horace Plunkett had established the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society – a body that laid the foundations for the success of Irish dairy produce through its promotion of co-operativism.
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, in 1947 Fivemiletown Creamery began bottling milk. In 1972, the creamery diversified into cheesmaking,
And in 2014, Dale Farm bought the Fivemiletown speciality cheese brand and reached agreement with the century-old Fivemiletown & Brookeborough Co-operative to take over production, lease the premises and employ staff.
But Dale Farm now plans to call production to a halt in June and end their lease.
In a statement, the company said: “Dale Farm will relocate production of the main lines of our Fivemiletown cheeses to our facility at Dromona Cullybackey. However, the low volume Fivemiletown cheese retail lines will no longer be carried.”
Ulster Unionist councillor Robert Mulligan said: “There is a long history there going back almost to Plunkett, who really got the farming co-operatives going. It is a sad day and it will be a big blow for Fivemiletown.”
Dale Farm said it is “supporting” the 18 staff employed at the site by “offering transfers to other Dale Farm production locations or, where this is not feasible, securing suitable redundancy packages”.