The Story of the Philanthropy Cheese

By January 10, 2019Grant management

Who would have thought that cheese and philanthropy could go hand in hand? Well, it does with the great long-lasting cheese Primula. The story of Primula cheese is a special one, with very few organisations having such a history.

How was Primula Cheese founded?

This long-lasting, spreadable cheese was created by Olav Kavli, who ironically was born in a small village called Molde in Norway. In 1893, Kavli moved to Bergen and started his own grocery store selling cheese. He needed to find a way for his cheese to last longer, and therefore in 1924, he invented the world’s first durable soft cheese (smelteost) which had a long shelve life.

Kavli named this cheese after the first flower of spring, the primrose. Primula was quickly spread (no pun intended) around Europe, going to the UK in 1929 and by 1930 it was being sold in 30 different countries.

Olav Kavli

Olav Kavli was a philanthropist and with the funds from his business, set up the Kavli Trust foundation in Norway. This Trust is the full owner of the Kavli Holding AS, the creators of Primula and other dairy-based products.

Kavli gave lots of money during his time, and with his trust being in control, all of the profits – anything that isn’t used to go back into the business – is donated to charity.

The trust has three main interests that it funds (taken from their website);

  • Humanitarian work (60%) – Support for the poor and disadvantaged people in the global south and within the Kavli countries, with a focus on education to give individuals opportunities to grow, develop and break out of poverty.
  • Research (30%) – Support for research into important social areas which can benefit humanity. To prevent and combat serious illnesses and damage caused by modern lifestyles with a focus on dementia and MS/CFS.
  • Culture (10%) – Support for cultural activities which enrich and stimulate society, with a particular focus on young people.

Since 2013, the profits generated for the charity have reached over £21.2 million, with 2016 being a record-breaking donation of £7.68 million. What a great way to leave your heritage, by continuing to help others and the environment. It’s also very different from the way the IKEA Foundation is ran, but that’s for another blog post…

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