2 August 2002

Lancs men sign direct milk deal

A GROUP of 15 Lancashire dairy farmers have signed a deal to sell milk direct to a regional supermarket chain. The milk will be marketed under its own brand name and should earn producers a 15% price premium.

Bowland Fresh Milk will be marketed by the family-owned Booths supermarket outlets, which has stores throughout the north-west and is expanding.

The 15 farmers involved in the milk group have formed Connect Plus Ltd – a farm assurance scheme setting high standards of dairy cow welfare and husbandry.

Milk will be collected daily in its own tanker from each farm and will be bottled at a dedicated plant in nearby Preston.

Booths marketing director, Chris Dee, said: "The farmers are the real drivers of this project. They came to us and we have worked closely on processing, bottling and branding.

"We are able to ensure that a decent proportion of the price is reflected in the amount that reaches the producer and consumers know they are getting the freshest possible product."

Steve Morris of Dutton, Longridge, near Preston milks just 55 cows alongside a flock of breeding ewes.

"This is the first time in my life that I have had the opportunity to connect with the customer," he said.

At the launch this week at Booths store in Clitheroe in the heart of the Trough of Bowland, many of the farmers involved in Bowland Fresh Milk helped

Clitheroe farmer Thomas Binns, one of the Connect Plus directors, said: "This is a great opportunity to meet consumers and to actually talk about food with them. We know there is a big swing towards locally produced food and this is a wonderful opportunity to get some real feed-back." &#42

Packing the pintas…dairy farmers William Slinger (left) and Thomas Binns with one of the first customers to try Bowland Fresh Milk.