AN award-winning smoked salmon supplier has collapsed into administration with the loss of 86 jobs amid investigations by the National Food Crime Unit into allegations of food fraud which has led to the arrest of a 56-year-old man.

Bleiker's Smokehouse based at Leeming Bar business park near Bedale, which supplies some of the major supermarkets in the country including Tesco and Sainsbury, is believed to have gone into administration after losing a contract with Aldi in April.

The company was founded originally in 1993, winning several awards from the Guild of Fine Foods Retailers and has been backed by leading chefs including Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein.

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Gavan Wafer, Head of Investigation at the National Food Crime Unit, said: “Our investigation into Bleiker's Smokehouse Ltd is related to a number of alleged issues including concerns about their country of origin claims on some of their smoked salmon products.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bleiker's Smokehouse at Leeming Bar Bleiker's Smokehouse at Leeming Bar

"The NFCU has acted on intelligence it received and which has resulted in one arrest being made. On the 3rd May 2022 a 56 year old male from Ripon was arrested in Northallerton, North Yorkshire as part of a current NFCU investigation. The suspect was interviewed and has been released under investigation.

“It is vitally important that we ensure food is safe and what it says it is and that consumers and food businesses are confident in the authenticity of food they are buying. We would like to take the opportunity to thank North Yorkshire Police for assisting in the investigation and supporting this operation.”

There was no one at the factory unit at Leeming Bar and the company did not respond to email and telephone messages. The Smoked Salmon Online website describes Bleiker’s as renowned for provenance and quality.

They add: “Now in their second generation, the family run smokehouse in the heart of North Yorkshire prides itself on traditionally curing and smoking the finest quality fresh produce and preparing them to the highest standards, wherever possible free from any artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives.

“Bleiker's provenance and quality is renowned. Not only have they won numerous awards from the Guild of Fine Foods Retailers but also are a choice smokehouse to some of the UK's top celebrity chefs.”

According to Companies House Bleiker's latest accounts show the firm had seen a drop in turnover from £20.5m in the 15 months to the end of April 2020 to £14.09m in the 12 months to the end of April 2021, when operating profit was £373,159. During the year the firm is said to have received £96,378 of grant support through the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Administrators FRP from Stockton have been appointed and it's understood are continuing to try and sell the business.