Cheddar mountain to help pensions of mature milkmen
A giant mountain of maturing cheddar cheese is to be used as security for a pension fund.
Twenty million kilos of Cathedral City cheddar will now back up pension funds of workers at Dairy Crest, one of the UK's biggest cheesemakers.
Some 20,000 pallets of the cheese, nearly half the company's total stock, have been pledged to the pension fund trustees.
The cheese is made in Cornwall, but matured in a warehouse in Warwickshire.
It is kept on the shelves there for 12 months.
In the event of the pension fund running into financial trouble, the trustees will now be able to sell blocks of cheddar to make up the shortfall.
Like many companies in the dairy industry, Dairy Crest has been trying to eliminate its pension deficit.
It has not been helped by the huge numbers of retired milkmen, from the days when nearly every household had its milk delivered.
Of 3,000 members of the current scheme, most are milkman. The scheme is now closed.
And it is not the first company in the food industry to find an innovative way of plugging its deficit.
In 2010, drinks giant Diageo agreed to transfer millions of barrels of maturing whisky to a pension fund partnership, to help plug its financial shortfall.
Dairy Crest is also paying £40m in cash into the pension fund, from the proceeds of selling its St Hubert spreads business last year.