AJ and RG Barber is a small farmhouse cheese producer based in Somerset in the UK, milking a herd of 1,700 cows. The Barber family have been farmers and cheese producers in the area since the 1800s and now produce a specialist range of cheeses including West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Red Leicester, Double Gloucester, Wensleydale, White Cheshire, Lancashire, and Caerphilly.

The company is also a supplier of the popular continental cheeses Gouda and Edam, and the UK specialist cheese Stilton.

Barbers produces Glastonbury Festival Mature Cheddar (‘Festival Cheddar’), which is made with the milk from the music festival site, Worthy Farm, and also other surrounding local farms. A charitable donation of 10p is made to ‘Water Aid’ for every kilogram of Festival Cheddar sold.

The cheese produced is distributed through Tesco, Sainsburys, the farm shop and local retailers in Shepton Mallet.

PACKAGING FORMATS

Barbers now mainly specialises in the production of block cheeses from 2.5g to 5kg and 20kg. The company can also prepare blocks that are then cut into pieces and packed in rectangular blocks for retail sale. It can supply truckles in sizes from 250g right up to 8kg.

In April 2008 PFM Packaging was asked to install a new Scirocco servo-assisted horizontal flow wrapping machine at the Barber facility at Maryland Farm in Ditcheat, Shepton Mallet.

The machine was commissioned because it saves on downtime from product changeovers, allowing smaller production runs if required. In addition, the machine is more amenable to the varied pack sizes demanded by customers for product differentiation.

“The Scirocco can pack cut portioned cheese at a speed of up to 200 packs per minute.”

NEW PACKAGING SYSTEM

Prior to the installation Barbers had to run two production lines, one for the major supermarkets requiring 65t of cheese per week to be packed in differing shapes and sizes and the other for smaller retailers. Following the installation of the Scirocco single jaw system the production plans for the company have been made much simpler.

The Scirocco can pack cut portioned cheese at a speed of up to 200 packs per minute (product allowing) and is able to produce a wide variety of flow pack sizes. The machine has automatic height adjustment and has a fully programmable screen. It is easy to clean following a production run as the electronics are contained separately at the back and the machine is fully accessible.

The machine is also equipped with a modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) system that can provide excellent hermetic seals at the full run speed of 200 packs per minute.