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 high market volatility and a restrictive pricing structure against increasing costs for animal feed, fodder and bedding. In order for the business to remain viable – having made a loss for 3 consecutive years – Jennifer and Adam realised that they needed to increase productivity and generate new revenue streams.
Their new business venture ‘Milk Mad’ has so far allowed the partnership to sell almost 200 extra litres of delicious full-cream milk per day from the new vending machine located at a local farm shop.
“By adding value to the milk we produce through processing here on our farm, we’re able to charge a premium price of over £1 per litre” explained Jennifer. “This has not only increased our income, but has also helped us to improve our business planning. We’re now better able to weather the market which in the past few years has seen average market prices drop from as high as 35 pence per litre to as low as 14 pence per litre in 2016.”
Initial customer feedback is also 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 homogenizing processes, it’s easier to digest too. 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 re-fillable glass bottles with metal lids – which means that they’re quickly getting into the habit of buying a local product with no plastic packaging and are investing in multiple bottles.”
With the new sales from the vending machine the partnership has been able to hire an additional part-time employee who is initially being trained in the milking parlour, while Adam concentrates on the milk processing.
“The LEADER team were very helpful throughout the project,” said Jennifer. “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 launch pad for our other new added-value products.”
Planned additions to the Milk Mad range include a range of natural, flavoured and Greek yoghurt, bottled natural protein whey targeting the health & fitness market, plus bottled milk deliveries to a local chain of shops and cafes.
The LEADER programme is designed to support rural businesses to create jobs, and support the rural economy https://www.leader-programme.org.uk/