8 November 1996

Chemical choice is ever more crucial

Deciding on which dairy chemical to buy can be tricky. Peter Grimshaw reports

DE-REGULATION of dairy chemicals has left long-established suppliers of products based on traditional chlorine, caustic and acid open to challenge from more up-to-date chemistry.

But that makes informed choice even more important for milk producers.

Deosan marketing manager Chris McDevitt says farmers are quick to spot unsatisfactory performance.

His impression is that there do not so far appear to be more new, cheap products on the market than there were before deregulation. Many available are simply the result of differing requirements from farm to farm, he believes.

"If you want to cut costs, you can certainly do so, but that places an onus on you to ensure everything else is absolutely right," he says. "There is less flexibility to cover careless or adverse use."

Andrew Perry, of Genus, also advises producers not to buy on price, but to stick with products with well-proven, well-known names, particularly buying from organisations who can follow up if there is a problem.

TG Jeary Agricentres offer two hypochlorite sterilisers, four detergents, 12 bulk tank cleaners (two powders and 10 liquids), three combined detergents and sterilisers, 17 circulation cleaners (10 powders and seven liquids), six acid cleaners and nine milkstone removers and filter cleaners.

The list includes specialist compounds designed to deal with particular types of installation and specific needs such as those for use in hard water areas.

Sales executive Peter Jeary says that with 20 sales reps on the road he does not meet a great deal of competition. "Buying from a reputable manufacturer is the safest bet, and of course checking that the product leaves the plant clean."

This is endorsed by the south-wests Mole Valley Farmers group. "Id be very wary of buying from a manufacturer or distributor that was not a recognised, reputable organisation," said chief executive David Plummer. "Without an official approval scheme, the only way to test an unknown product is to buy it and find out how it works."

Alfa Laval Agri offers more than a score of dairy hygiene products and it can also look at the market-place from the perspective of its main business, which is in milking equipment.

"We prefer powder cleansers because they are kinder to the plant," says marketing manager David Gordon, although he admits these are more expensive than liquids.