No buyers for last real Camembert

The last manufacturers of Camembert in the town that gave cheese its name struggling to find buyer for their business

3 June 2014

CAMEMBERT could soon be just a fragrant memory in the Orne town that gave the famous French cheese its name more than 200 years ago.

François and Nadia Durand are the last Camembert manufacturers in the Normandy town where the cheese was invented in 1791 - and, after 30 years in the business, they want to sell up.

But, the Durands said, no one seems interested in buying the profitable business. They turnover €600,000 per year, and have three partners and two employees.

Ms Durand, 46, told Ouest France: “Our customers are wholesalers who supply specialist dairies and delicatessens.”

Maybe it’s the heavy workload that is putting off potential buyers. The couple work seven days a week and, Ms Durand said: “In 25 years, we have taken 11 days’ vacation with our children.”

Ms Durand said her husband, who is 52, gets up at 6.30am to make 600 handmade cheeses per day, while farmer brother Nicolas looks after the 70 dairy cows that supply the milk.

In order to qualify for Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP) certification, at least half the milk must come from Norman cows.

None of the couple’s three children want to continue the family business, Ms Durand said. “Our eldest is a cook in a gourmet restaurant in Caen; the second is training to be a nurse; and our last is in primary school.”

Their decision has caused uproar in the town, which is hoping that a buyer can be found to keep cheese-making alive in the town.

Photo: Richard North

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