Sheese Garlic and Herb Spread

overall rating:

1.2

planets

Izabela Lachut
2/11/2022
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We’ve heard enough jokes about the taste of vegan cheese, and they're all “sheesey”. Pun aside, this is my favourite garlic and herb spread out there, one that is on par with dairy ones in my opinion. Many supermarkets have released similar cheeses to rival this one which are comparable in flavour. However taste wise it is delicious, and the range of flavours available is unmatched by any other brand. Sheese offers flavours such as cheddar, german smoked as well as shredded and spreadable cheeses. Personally I would recommend this brand of vegan cheese for those first transitioning to a vegan or lactose free diet as one can easily find their favourite flavour such as french style blue or gouda style. It loses points however, for its surprising lack of detail on many aspects of manufacturing.Overall, I struggled to clearly find information about the distribution process and thus evaluating their efforts to be sustainable proved challenging.

What it's made of:

0.7

During my research, I found it quite challenging to gain information on one of the main ingredients - coconut oil. Given that production is based on the small scottish island of Bute, it is safe to assume that this ingredient is imported from elsewhere in the world with the Philippines and India being the largest exporters of coconut oil . The lack of transparency on this front is disappointing given how Sheese is very open about how their production has been based on the island of Bute and has been for 30 years. This transparency should be seen in their ingredients given that there are not many in the cream cheese itself. What we do know however, is that the Sheese garlic and herb spread is made from plant based ingredients and is suitable for coeliac, gluten free, kosher, vegan and lactose free diets meaning it is accessible to many. Furthermore, it does not contain saturated fat or msg, some people may avoid these for health reasons so it is great they keep many dietary restrictions in mind. Although in general, vegan cheeses do not have much nutritional value with their primary ingredients being water and coconut oil in most cases , it does provide 150mg of  calcium  which is a vital nutrient in a vegan diet. Despite the lack of transparency, the product is vegan which does make it a better option for those who want to avoid animal product for ethical or environmental reasons. One of Sheese’s core values mentioned on their website is that they are “dedicated to animal free, ethical food production processes” which I would argue they do well as 100% of their products are vegan.

How it's made:

1.2

When Sheese was first founded in 1988, their production process was contained in a small kitchen which is where many of their vegan cheeses were born. Since then, they have expanded production and taken over an old creamery where production is still based to this day. Not much more is known about the process but it seems to be contained in this factory still. However, with demand growing for plant based cheeses, will they stay based in this location or look to relocate? What is good to see is that they are very open about this one factory and with such a small production location, they can ensure that employees are being treated fairly and standards are maintained. Sheese would benefit from being open about the process of making their garlic and herb spread as consumers would be more confident in purchasing a product in which the whole production process can be transparent. Especially consumers who are health or environmentally conscious; Sheese should be open about the journey that their ingredients take in order to become the product that consumers eventually purchase.

Who makes it:

1.8

Based on Sheese’s website, it seems as if a small dedicated team is involved in the production process on the island of bute. Sheese has a picture of said team on the site which seems to show a tight -knit community of workers dedicated to the company.  Unfortunately, there is no information on the distribution process beyond manufacturing as previously stated. Although the company is fairly transparent about their production on the Scottish island, what happens to the products once they are produced remains a mystery. One can assume that they ship or fly the products to the mainland as well as other continents but this process is not discussed in detail. They should be more transparent about this given that they state on their website that they “help people lower their carbon footprint” and “protect the environment in turn”. How can consumers be sure of this if they are unaware of the process it takes from making the product to it landing on our supermarket shelves?

 

Furthermore, in my research I uncovered that the Scottish cheese maker has recently been bought by Saputo, an international dairy producer which owns established brands such as Cathedral City and Utterly Butterly. Sheese explained that the reason for this acquisition is to bring their products to a wider audience, which is understandable as the demand for plant based cheeses continues to grow and so Sheese will want to remain competitive. Inevitably , this calls into question the ethics of the company in the future. Consumers may be hesitant to purchase products knowing that the mother company does not align with their values. Alternatively, this may be a step in the right direction for convincing customers to adopt a more plant based diet as more research comes to light about the health and environmental benefits of one. Only time will tell whether this decision will prove beneficial for the company and their commitment to sustainability.