25 July 1997

Market development good for everyone

PRODUCERS wanting to venture into processing can find help at Milk Marques product development centre.

But a big part of its business is to provide resources for dairy firms to develop markets for milk and keep milk prices up for all producers, stresses centre manager, Chris Bird.

"The product development centre is about helping to maintain a profitable dairy business across all sectors," he says. "It is Milk Marques tool to shape the future of milk and realise a sustainable price."

Publications such as the Dairy Diary and a new magazine have also been developed by MM in an attempt to support the doorstep delivery trade and arrest the drop in liquid milk sales.

As for producers who wish to start processing on-farm, Mr Bird says the centre will prove useful at any stage of a products development. Technical solutions, sample making, packaging or research can be provided on a confidential basis at all or just one of the stages.

The centre has expertise and resources for all these fields. And it can considerably reduce the risks involved in developing added value products, he maintains. "If anyone is thinking of setting up a processing business then we would be able to advise them on all aspects. And we could ensure they went to the right people for equipment."

The centre has to charge a consultancy fee, as it is self-funding and takes nothing from producers milk price. Its main customers are dairy companies supplying supermarkets that demand new, innovative products, particularly in the growing markets of yogurts and desserts.

But it also supports many producer processors, such as Farm Produce Marketing which approached the centre when it had the idea for Cheshire Milk for in-flight catering.

"We had a patent for extended life milk and a pot filler that we could use to develop samples," says Mr Bird. "We brought together the ideas and got the product out."

The TetraPak 125ml packing machine now in place at the centre is still used to package Farm Produce Marketings Cheshire Milk cartons.

Chris Bird… Providing resources to develop new markets for milk.

DEVELOPMENT CENTRE

&#8226 New markets for milk.

&#8226 Advice on all aspects.

&#8226 Charges consultancy fee.