UK cheese maker Wensleydale Creamery has injected an undisclosed sum into new machinery to produce smoked cheese.

The technology has been installed at the Saputo-owned group’s existing UK facility in Hawes, North Yorkshire.

According to the company, the smoking machinery is already operational and has increased its existing output twofold.

Just Food has asked Wensleydale Creamery to confirm when the smokehouse was installed at the site, as well as the time frame in which it has seen production double.

The group refused to reveal its present production output.

Wensleydale’s investment will also allow the cheesemaker to add smoked oak, hickory and beech flavours to its line of cheeses.

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Its present smoked products range includes a naturally smoked Cheddar and Wensleydale. The company also manufactures other Wensleydale and Cheddar cheeses, as well as blue cheese, among other products.

The smoked cheese technology will also be available to all of Saputo UK’s portfolio of brands, the company told Just Food.

It declined however to specify which brands, if any, had indicated plans to use the smokehouse.

Saputo produces a range of cheese brands in the UK. In addition to Wensleydale Creamery, these include Cathedral City, Davidstow, and the plant-based cheese maker, Sheese.

Commenting on the news in a statement, Sandra Bell, marketing manager at The Wensleydale Creamery, described the new smoking installation as “a major milestone” for the group.

She added: “We’re starting to see increased interest and demand for naturally smoked cheese, and as a category it provides real growth potential for our business.

“This investment firmly cements our commitment to innovation in this area and by more than doubling our capacity allows us to further develop our expertise and grow.”

As well as cheeses, Saputo’s UK arm also manufactures butters such as Clover, Country Life, Vitalite, Willow and Utterly Butterly, and the frying oils range, Frylight.

In November, the company set out plans to close a dairy facility in the UK next year, putting more than 150 jobs on the line.

Saputo has been consolidating operations elsewhere, namely in Australia and the US, as part of an exercise to cut costs.

Earlier this month, the group booked a loss in its third quarter on the back of a C$265m ($196.8m) impairment charge related to the Canadian giant’s Australia dairy division.

Saputo has been “optimising” its manufacturing network in Australia, with the number of plants reduced to six from 11.