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Syria refugees win contract to sell cheese product at Aldi stores across UK

April 22, 2024 at 8:03 pm

Variety of cheese in the dairy aisle refrigerated section [Getty]

Syrian refugees who founded a cheese business is northern England have won a contract with a major supermarket chain to sell their product on shelves nationwide.

After fleeing Syria in 2012 amid the outbreak of its ongoing civil war and arriving in the United Kingdom, refugees Raghid Sandouk and his wife, Razan Alsous, tried searching for jobs, which turned out to be unsuccessful as their lack of references and work experience in the UK presented a major obstacle.

It reportedly inspired the couple to set up and build their business, Yorkshire Dama Cheese, in the city of Halifax, with Alsous’s educational background in medicine and pharmacy and Sandouk’s laboratory equipment business expertise helping develop their cheese products, made from British dairy.

READ: Meet the Syrian refugees shaking up the British halloumi industry

“It wasn’t an easy journey. We completely changed our professions when we came to the UK. We almost lost everything and had to settle into a new life with three young children”, said Alsous, according to British broadcaster, ITV.

“Eventually I thought, why not create a business and make Syrian cheese from fresh high-quality British milk? I had to use my scientific knowledge to make the product. Without our background, we wouldn’t be able to deliver it.”

After years of running their successful business, the couple and their company were featured on Channel 4‘s show, Aldi’s Next Big Thing, this month, where they were recognised and selected by the three judges, leading them to win a contract with the supermarket giant which will see 40,000 of their Hello-Mi-Rolls – a Syrian-style cheese product – sold at Aldi’s thousand stores across the UK.

According to Sandouk, “The milk, the cheese, the entire product is all made on our premises in Sowerby Bridge. When we started it was just an idea to use our Syrian cheese with local products on a small scale, but now we have this contract.”

READ: In north Syria, business hub hopes to drive recovery from war