Rew Valley ends milk production after 30 years

A dairy company on the Isle of Wight is to stop milk production after 30 years, blaming supermarket “milk prices wars”.

Rew Valley Dairies will cease milk production at Macketts Farm in Arreton this Friday (25 April).

Fifteen people work at the dairy and up to five are expected to lose their jobs.

Owners David and Jenny Harvey said the dominance of supermarkets had driven their family-run dairy business out of the market.

The milk price war between supermarkets means they are selling milk to consumers at below the cost of production.

Earlier this month, a number of the major retailers slashed the price of milk to £1 for four pints, sparking accusations they were undervaluing British milk.

In the face of such strong competition, family-owned dairy farms are struggling to remain competitive and many are going out of business.

Read also: Dairy farmers launch Isle of Wight milk brand

Mrs Harvey said: “If you are a family trying to live on a small amount of money, then £1 for four pints of milk is fantastic. However, it is mathematically impossible for us to make a profit when milk is sold at this price. We felt it was not viable at all.

“I don’t know what will happen in the future for dairy businesses like ours. I don’t think anyone can make a living at the price.”

The Isle of Wight had 300 dairy farms in the 1960s – now there are less than 15.

Rew Valley was instrumental in the launch of the “I Love Isle of Wight Milk” brand 18 months ago, which attempted to reinvigorate the local dairy industry.

The campaign, backed by Conservative Isle of Wight MP Andrew Turner, aims to encourage islanders to buy milk produced by local dairy farmers instead of cheaper supermarket milk transported to the island from mainland UK.

Mr and Mrs Harvey told the BBC the last pasteurising would take place at the farm in Arreton on Friday.

However, the company would continue to buy and transport milk from Isle of Wight farms and deal in eggs, bacon and biscuits.

James Osman, the NFU’s county adviser for the Isle of Wight, said: “We are sad to see Rew Valley end milk production. It will be a big loss for the farming community on the island.

“It shows the effect of the larger multiples on smaller businesses that are trying to service the same communities.”


Farm succession planning during the Covid-19 crisis

Register now