Bute Island Foods have been making cheese alternatives on the beautiful Isle of Bute for over 30 years! From hand-making the original 'Scheese' around a farmhouse kitchen table, to now operating out of a dedicated dairy free factory and supplying some of the UKs biggest food brands, they've got a vegan cheese for just about any application you can think of. We asked them our six questions to get to know this stalwart of Scottish veganism a bit better:
1. How/why and when did you start your business?
Bute Island Foods was set up in the late 80’s, and Sheese was the original vegan cheese brand. So, over that time we’ve built up a huge amount of technical understanding to make dairy free cheeses that taste and replicate the stretching, bubbling, and melting properties that animal-based cheeses have.
2. What do you do that sets you apart from other vegan cheese manufacturers?
We make a very wide range of dairy free cheeses - not just a block, slice or grated - to ensure all types of vegan cheese are covered. We produce blocks, flavoured blocks, spreads, slices, smoked cheeses and so on. And we make for health stores, leading retailers and have a strong foodservice business. We also co-brand with certain well-known brands like Kettle chips and Papa John’s.
The “Old Creamery”, Rothesay, current home of Bute Island Foods since 2013
3. What changes have you witnessed in the 30 years you’ve been in the industry?
The mainstreaming of both dairy free and veganism. 1 in 4 households now look to avoid dairy products; and the number of consumers choosing plant-based, for a variety of reasons, has boomed.
I think there has also been a splintering of consumer diets into a more varied repertoire of foods, and new motivations to purchase coming to the fore. For example, impact on the planet and Free From are two big trends that were much less prevalent 30 years ago.
4. How did the pandemic affect your business?
Keeping staff safe while maintaining supply during lockdowns and some early panic buying was tough for everyone in the food industry.
I think overall the food sector - in all channels - has done a very good job.
Just a couple of ways to use Bute Island's tasty vegan cheeses
5. What advice would you have for someone starting out as a small business?
Have a clear point of difference. Have a meaningful reason to exist. Focus on building real advocates & cheerleaders for your business from day one.
6. Apart from Greencity, which other three or more people, living or deceased, would you invite to make a dinner party entertaining?
Walt Disney, Robert de Niro and my family.