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Dairy farm's innovation drives sustainable growth

Milk Mad|Leader|Growth & Productivity|Rural

Second-generation dairy farmers have embarked on plans to diversify and drive sustainable growth thanks to a £19,000 grant from the LEADER Programme.

Jennifer and Adam run their 110 hectare farm in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, milking 120 Holstein Friesian cows. With LEADER support, they now have the facilities to process milk on site and to sell direct to customers in a local farm shop using a state-of-the-art milk vending machine.

Previously, the farm’s wholesale milk sales were subject to market volatility and a restrictive pricing structure against increasing costs for animal feed and bedding. For the business to remain viable, Jennifer and Adam knew they needed to increase productivity and generate new revenue streams.

Increasing sales and staff numbers

Their new business venture, ‘Milk Mad’, has seen them sell almost 200 extra litres of delicious full-cream milk per day from the new vending machine located at a local farm shop. Thanks to the new sales, an additional part-time employee has been hired to be trained in the milking parlour, while Adam concentrates on the milk processing.

Reducing plastic packaging too

Customer feedback is extremely positive. “Customers are telling us that our milk tastes better than what’s available in supermarkets, and as it doesn’t go through the same homogenising processes, it’s easier to digest too,” said Jennifer. “We’re also told that as our milk is kept chilled in the machine, it’s fresher than the local milk delivery services. Happily, customers are also finding the vending machine easy to use and love the distinctive design of our refillable glass bottles with metal lids – which means that they’re quickly getting into the habit of buying a local product with no plastic packaging.

“By adding value to the milk we produce by processing it here on our farm, we’re able to charge a premium price of over £1 per litre. This has not only increased our income, but has also helped us improve our business planning. We’re now better able to weather the market, which in the past few years has seen average prices drop from as high as 35 pence per litre to as low as 14 pence per litre.

“The LEADER team were very helpful throughout the project. A lot of hard work went in to securing the necessary food hygiene and safety standards to launch the project, but the ‘Milk Mad’ vending machine is now providing the perfect launchpad for our other new added-value products.”

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