TWO PINTS of milk look identical. But one will earn its producer better returns. How? Showing consumers that your milk is different means finding a unique selling point that works.

But just finding a USP is not enough, says Ben Watts of Kite Consulting, who has helped one producer group in the eastern counties to differentiate its product.

It also takes dedication, careful planning and time spent building effective relationships with processors and retailers.

The “Exclusively East Anglian” brand was launched one year ago and now supplies Ipswich & Norwich Co-operative with 20m litres a year.

“The unique selling point for East Anglian was that it was locally produced and completely farm assured,” says Mr Watts.

The “local” basis for the USP proved popular among consumers when researching the project.

“Local is seen as fresh, healthy and generally better. Consumers were genuinely positive towards a local product from clean farms and healthy cows.”

Consumers have also said the milk tastes fresher and creamier, and the local brand alone would not be enough without changing the drinking experience, he says.

But Mr Watts believes using a locality as a USP to add value to milk is not a one-stop solution for entrepreneurial dairy farmers.

“How many ‘Yorkshire Milks‘ can you have? However, there is still quite a bit of scope for regionally-identified milk.”

Any effort to build a brand and differentiate milk must be professionally run and co-ordinated, or farmers could risk devaluing their own USP.

All the producers involved in East Anglian had negotiation training.

The USP strategy you are starting to develop could be lost through an unco-ordinated approach.

“Choose your processor and retailer very carefully. They will be your customer, and you need to do as much market research about their requirements as you can.

“The thinking from the outset was that this had to be a win-win situation or ‘special relationship‘ for both parties. And our farmers are rewarded for doing a good job with a sustainable milk price.”