Novel way to counter tumbling milk prices

A dairy farmer from north Northumberland is planning to start bottling his own milk so that he can sell directly to local people and businesses.

Friday, 25th March 2016, 5:00 am
Milk producer Alan Conway at Hauxley Farm.
 Picture by Jane Coltman
Milk producer Alan Conway at Hauxley Farm. Picture by Jane Coltman

And as well as processing his own milk at Hauxley Farm, in High Hauxley, Alan Conway wants to re-establish milk rounds, employing wounded veterans to process and deliver his product.

The whole idea came about due to the ever-decreasing returns that dairy farmers are getting for their milk; two years ago, Alan was getting 34p per litre, now it has almost halved to 17½p.

Alan said: “We are very efficient so we have been able to mitigate losses to some extent, but we are still looking at losses.”

The financial implications plus the fact that ‘local produce for local people is very popular right now’ led Alan to consider processing and bottling his own.

Other farms in the county have diversified into the likes of ice cream and cheese – Doddington Dairy, Morwick Dairy and the Northumberland Cheese Company, at Blagdon – but Alan was keen to try not to compete with anyone.

“It seems no one particularly local is bottling milk so we decided that’s the avenue we wanted to go down,” he added. “Very few people seem to buy milk on the doorstep.”

As this plan was coming together, Alan saw the DIY SOS special in which a street in Manchester was transformed into a community for army veterans.

He contacted the charity Walking with the Wounded, which expressed an interest, and several potential employees have been out to visit the farm.

Reducing food miles is another goal as currently his milk goes down to Leeds. With the new business, he would to serve an area from Alnwick to Morpeth and all the villages in between.

“If we could sell the bulk in Amble, that would be fantastic,” he said. “We want to keep the mileage as low as possible.”

If anyone or any businesses want to express an interest in Hauxley Dairy Working Wounded Milk, then Alan would welcome feedback as he develops his business plan. Contact [email protected] or visit Hauxley Farm on Facebook.