John Kopiski’s Cheese Stall

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John presented a wonderful stall near the mayory on Tversakaya this Autumn. This was a chance to present his farm’s cheeses, something which John takes delight in doing.

How did you come to have a cheese stall on Tverskaya?

This is a scheme operated by the mayor of Moscow, and this is not the first year it has been running. It seems to be a brilliant concept, as everyone wins: it obviously creates a good image, and the public gets to sample a rich variety of products. The event is called ‘Moscow Autumn,’ there are also stalls on Manezhnaya Square. The stalls are free of change for one month.

How did the stall work out for you?

It was fantastic for us, because we could sell our cheeses to a lot of people who we wouldn’t normally come in contact with. Although we have started to sell to supermarkets, prices through them are much higher. On the stall, we sold at market prices, which are about 50% cheaper. In doing this we are also helping to advertise our cheeses as people did ask where they can buy these cheeses. So for us it has been rather marvellous to get something free in Moscow!

What sort of cheeses were you selling there?

We sold a product line called ‘John’s cheeses.’ I created my own recipes, and we produce cheeses that are somewhere between Goudas and young Cheddars when young and more like a parmesan, after 6-7 month in the cellar! We were also selling our rather brightly coloured Annatto, which has a nutty taste, and a Ricotta cheese, which is going down quite well now.

Have the sanctions been good for you in the sense that there is less cheese coming in from abroad?

Not really. There were over 300,000 tonnes of cheese imported yearly before the sanctions, but the question is: what kind of ‘cheese’ at what kind of price? A lot of consumers are not able to buy quality products and hence are compelled to purchase adulterated products, such as so called cheese made from Palm oil and other non-dairy substitutes. On the other hand, there is a sufficient number of the so called ‘business class’ that are able to afford real products. We have a unique ‘boutique’ cheese if you like, because we only produce 150 kilogrammes a day but even then we still have marketing problems due to the high Moscow costs. In general, I don’t think the sanctions have helped us, but what is helping us is the increasing desire amongst middle class Russians to buy good, real food.