Wensleydale diary farmer Kevin Clarkson and Wensleydale Creamery MD David HartleyWensleydale diary farmer Kevin Clarkson and Wensleydale Creamery MD David Hartley

The Wensleydale Creamery is looking to attract more dairy farmers to its milk producer group following year-on-year growth and its busiest Christmas ever.

The processor, based in the Yorkshire Dales, sources milk from 40 local farms but it looking to bolster numbers as retailer and export demand to the US, Canada, Middle and Far East has grown.

See also: Smaller milk buyers set bar with strong farmer relationships

Based on a minimalistic, easy-to-understand contract, Wensleydale pays its farmers 26.75p/litre on a standard litre, using a basket price system with no haulage charges, hidden deductions or penalties.

Bonuses are paid on volume, hygiene and constituent targets with a focus on high protein content.

Managing director, David Hartley said the basket mechanism includes liquid and cheese buyers, as well as other large processors’ prices to ensure the Creamery’s payments are a fair reflection of the industry.

“We try and be as transparent as possible. All our producers have direct access to the creamery and to me to keep up effective communication.

“Our contract is based around trust and an ongoing dialogue with our chairman and farmer committee.” 

100% purchase guarantee        

Its contract guarantees to buy 100% of producer’s milk, while allowing for producers to process some of the milk themselves or sell raw milk at the farmgate.

Mr Hartley added: “We want to talk to dairy farmers in the North Yorkshire area, specifically 20-30 miles from our Hawes creamery who want to be associated with a local brand.

“We’re interested in talking however long you have left on your contract to help grow the creamery.”

The firm is a success story in the region having been rescued from closure in 1992 by a group of managers and former employees. It now employs 200 members of staff and has a turnover of £27m/year.

A £5m overhaul of the Creamery’s processing plant in Hawes and packaging facility in Rippon increased the company’s production capacity and helped to enable this growth.