25 July 1997

Top quality product finds premium niche

AYRSHIRE milk producer Stephen Allen has found a niche market in local supermarkets and shops for the high quality milk produced by his Erganagh herd, Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

Sales now amount to 1000 litres a day in pint, litre and 2-litre plastic bottles labelled as Erganagh Ayrshire Milk. A sample of the products were on display at the Ayrshire Cattle Society conference, in Ulster. Mr Allen hopes to source more Ayrshire milk in the province to expand liquid milk, icecream and cream sales.

Milk from his 60-cow herd is sold as a local product and is fresher than milk from larger processors, often being on supermarket shelves within 24 hours, he says.

Although, the supermarket pays him a 3p/litre premium above ordinary milk, his on-farm processing costs are proportionally higher than those for big processors.

The first supermarket to sell Mr Allens milk advertised the product in the store and the milk has continued to sell on quality and taste, he says. Whole milk is about 4% fat, and the semi-skimmed 1.7% fat compared with 3.5 and 1.5% for ordinary milk. Now he has joined the Ayrshire Milk Marketing Group and hopes to benefit from its label, and marketing skills.

Stephen Allen now sells 1000 litres a day of his Erganagh Ayrshire milk through local supermarkets and shops at a 3p/litre premium.