Dairy worker cleans a milking cluster© Tim Scrivener

Milk producers selling direct to the public have reported increased sales following farmer protests.

Those about to start retailing their milk have been deluged with calls.

There has also been in increase in enquiries from farmers to sellers of milk vending machines in recent months.

Meanwhile, Farmers Weekly has had a huge response to its online milk map showing where consumers can buy milk direct.

See also: Crisis-hit dairy farmers turn to vending machines to sell milk

Dairy farmer Bryce Cunningham from Ayshire said he had received about 200 phone calls from local people after organising demonstrations outside Morrisons and Asda.

Most of the calls had been to ask what Red Tractor meant and how to buy milk from a farmer.

He is being paid just 15p/litre at the farmgate and planned to buy a vending machine to sell his own herd’s raw milk. In the meantime he will start selling his neighbour’s pasteurised milk on Monday.

Hampshire dairy farmers Jennifer and Mark Stevens had just taken that leap and were preparing to sell direct through a machine for the first time on Sunday.

They had distributed 500 leaflets, taken on a PR firm and were hoping for 200 customers.

“[Arla] are doing their best and surviving in a world market, but we’re producing a quality product, which supermarkets are using as a loss leader.”
Jennifer Stevens, Hampshire dairy farmer

The family supplies Arla but said they feared their farm would not survive if they did not take control of their milk price.

“[Arla] are doing their best and surviving in a world market, but we’re producing a quality product, which supermarkets are using as a loss leader,” said Mrs Stevens.

Sheep and dairy farmer Dave Stuart’s family produces, pasteurises and delivers 10,000 bottles of milk a week in South Yorkshire.

He said a new customer had just placed an order with a message saying: “PS I’m happy to pay the farmer the price needed to keep them afloat rather than the supermarkets who would see them sink.”

Selling direct was enjoyable because of the interaction with customers, he said, but bottling was hard work, starting at 2am four days a week.

More producers appeared to be trying to harness public support and take control of their milk price. Norfolk dairy farmer Jonny Crickmore, who sells milk vending machines, said: “The past two to three weeks have been crazy. I’ve got a new person phoning every day [asking about milk vending machines].”

But he warned that selling raw milk to consumers required a real commitment to achieving top levels of health and safety.

NFU Sussex county adviser James Osman said not every farmer wanted to retail their milk. While vending machines might provide a solution for some, processing equipment was expensive.