Once upon a time

Passionate about Dairy-Free cheese production for almost 30 years

1988 with humble Artisan beginnings around a farmhouse kitchen table, a Cheddar style soya-based cheese alternative was developed and called Sheese (originally "Scheese" does anyone remember this old one? Here it makes us feel our age)

First Sheese label

1994 Bute Island Foods completely renovated a very small derelict stone building on the island, and established the first official production of hand-crafted Sheese in the completely animal and Dairy Free site

Sheese quickly gained in popularity, with seven more flavours being added to create a more extensive range to choose from. The demand for Sheese saw it becoming available in many other European countries, starting with Sweden, Germany and Holland. For many years it was completely produced by hand, including the individual weighing out and shaping of each item, using a hand-press!

Bute Island Foods, the old factory
The old Sheese factory

2003 the now managing director of Bute Island Foods (Deb) having been seriously ill as a child and unable to eat dairy or animal products, purchased the fledgling company, determined to develop and produce a wide range of alternatives to dairy food products. Her fellow directors (Frans, Guy & Mark) who also do not eat any dairy or animal products, joined her with the same specific target in mind: to research, develop and produce a top of the range alternative to animal cheese, coming as close as possible to the original, traditional cheeses, in taste and texture, but without the harmful effects suffered by so many

2006 demand had outgrown production capabilities and so new state-of-the-art machinery was purchased, increasing product capacity by 100%

The following year, with a complete labelling and packaging redesign undertook (introducing the convenient re-sealable packs), came a new delicious range of soft spreadable Creamy Sheese

2012 a new melting range of Sheese was developed, which coincided with the company being approached by Tesco, who were looking to sell a complete range of Dairy Free chilled products in their stores. They began stocking Melty and Creamy Sheese under their own Free From brand. To start with, Sheese was only available in 180 stores, but soon expanded to 500 to 800 stores across the UK!

2013 again demand had outgrown capacity, so the whole team moved into larger premises on the island. Well, believe it or not, but to keep producing our Vegan & Dairy Free Sheese, we purchased the "Old Creamery" which had lain empty for two and a half years! After a complete & total renovation, both BRC accreditation & the installation of dedicated Dairy Free machinery enabled us to increase production capacity by 400% (think about all those Sheese we can make for you now!)

New Sheese factory

2014 saw us being approached by the U.K.’s largest chain of High Street wholefood stores (Holland & Barrett), who now also stock our Sheese. We also developed a whole new range with our –incredibly melty and convenient- Sheese Slices and a new flavour among our Sheese range: the Greek style (which will remind you of a well-known cheese named Feta)!

While you were reading Bute Island Foods story, what are we working on?

Well, we are continually doing research and -to be honest- we do quite enjoy tasting new exciting Sheese on pizzas and in toasted sandwiches!

Despite over the time having expanded considerably in size of factory, machinery, and product ranges, Bute Island Foods still have a relatively small, friendly, close-knit team, and retain the ideals that they started out with all those years ago.

Bute Island Foods look to the future, and to providing an ever expanding range of exciting products (especially across the pond to our American customers) that will encourage and inspire people to make the transition to an animal-free diet easier than ever before.

About the stunning Isle of Bute

Bute is a small island nestling off the West Coast of Scotland, green yet rugged, occasionally buffeted by Atlantic winds, often embraced by the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream. Quite an inspiring place to build a more peaceful world isn't it?

Ferry leaving the Isle of Bute
Sunset on the Isle of Bute