Published on 16/11/2022
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Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses
  • Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses are all made from milk from its own herd of cows and goats within a 10-mile radius of the dairy
  • The project will review the entire supply chain for the company using data to drive efficiency, yield and consistency of processes and products
  • Results of the collaboration aim to double the size of the business in five years.

Aston University and fourth-generation family cheesemakers, Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses (BFC) based in rural Lancashire, have teamed up through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to use high-tech solutions to increase their cheese production.

The project will develop novel business analytics and machine learning capability in order to amplify cheese production, looking at milk yields, animal feed and supply chain processes. It will collect data sets throughout the supply chain, from feeding livestock through to the cheese-making process and product consistency.

Cutting-edge technologies that are unique in the sector such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be applied, to predict and optimise the quality and quantity of milk, helping BFC to forecast future cheese demand.

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified researcher, known as a KTP associate.

The academic team from Aston University will be led by Dr Jiabin Luo, lecturer in business analytics, whose interests focus on optimisation modelling and decision-making in logistics process and supply chains in a wide range of businesses. She will be joined by Dr Ozren Despic, whose main research focus is on developing mathematical models for their use in efficiency measurement and decision making.

Academic support will also be provided by Dr Viktor Pekar and Dr Eliseo Vilalta-Perdomo. Dr Pekar’s interests focus on predictive modelling, machine learning and natural language processing. Dr Vilalta-Perdomo’s research is at the intersection of issues such as human performance, technology and sustainable operations.

Completing the team in the KTP associate position is Giwa Reagan Iziomo, who has proven expertise in data science and business analytics. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in business analytics and brings onboard years of industry experience in process improvement, supply chain and commercial analyses.

Daniel Hall, fourth-generation owner and operations director of Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses, said:

“The British cheese renaissance we’re seeing at the moment is really exciting – more people than ever are buying into local, quality farmhouse cheesemaking and the variety of superb cheeses we have in this country.

“Our collaboration is an important lever in keeping this momentum going – with access to Aston University’s expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics, we can push the boundaries of our supply chain and processes both now and for the future.”

Dr Jiabin Luo, lecturer in business analytics at Aston Business School, says:

“The project presents an opportunity to deploy the concepts and theories resulting from our research in a real-world situation and demonstrate its high-quality impact.

“It also has a positive impact on teaching through case studies on the novel aspect of BFC's substantial control of its own supply chain.”

Notes to Editors

About Aston University KTPs

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a UK-wide programme that helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is a leading KTP provider, ranked third in terms of volume by Innovate UK, the National body.

This project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Watch our short film to see how it works and visit our website for examples of KTP in action at Aston.

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email or call 0121 204 4242


About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

In 2022 Aston University was ranked 22nd in the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Rebecca Hume, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7557 745416 or email:

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About Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses

Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses is an award-winning, fourth generation family cheesemaker established in 1932 in rural Lancashire. Butlers combine traditional skills, love and innovation to hand make specialist British hard, blue and soft cheeses with milk from its own herd of cows and goats.

In 2022, Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses celebrate 90 years as an independent family business. It makes some of Britain’s best-loved cheeses, from classic Lancashire like ‘Sunday Best’, to ‘Kidderton Ash’ goats and creamy, soft ‘Button Mill. Butlers is best known for flagship brand ‘Blacksticks Blue’, a Gold Great Taste Award winner with its creamy, smooth texture, unmistakable orange colour and irresistible blue bite.

Butlers supply all major UK supermarkets and independent retailers. Its online cheese store is a one-stop shop for all your cheese eating and gifting needs, delivered nationwide, direct from the dairy, straight to your front door.

Twitter: @butlerscheese


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