A WEST WALES producer who markets a range of branded milk products says it is essential to invest in professional help with product packaging and promotion.

Laurence Harris, managing director of Pembrokeshire-based Trioni , which sells 1m litres of fresh and flavoured organic milk a year, warns that successful down-market trading requires expertise that few farmers possess.

“No matter how good we think we are on our computers, we must accept that designing packaging that can persuade a customer to try a product requires specialist knowledge,” he insists.

Mr Harris and two organic farming friends, Carwyn James and John Morris, established Trioni in April 2002 to add value to their milk by getting it processed by a dairy 100 miles away in Wrexham.

The original partners spent about £15,000 getting their packaging and point-of-sale promotional material right.

This hard work saw them rewarded with the Milk Development Council’s 2004 David Hall memorial award.

“We now want to redesign our packaging to flag up things like low fat content, while making it less cluttered with information.”

But Mr Harris warns milk producers attracted to the concept of adding value that they must still concentrate on efficient farming, and employ expertise beyond the farm gate.

“We like to think we can turn our hands to anything, but food processing, distribution and marketing are very different from feeding and milking cows.”