Consortium broadens independents horizons
By Marianne Curtis
SUPPLYING medium or large sized retailers is often too large a step for small producer processors to take. But one Wilts-based producer has achieved success, thanks to the Independent Dairy Consortium (IDC) which helps remove the hassle.
Milk processing began at Berkeley Farm, Wroughton, Wilts in 1982, says owner Nick Gosling. "Initially we produced whole milk but as semi-skimmed and skimmed milk became more popular, we began to sell excess cream to ice-cream makers and for butter."
Customers come from a wide range of backgrounds and include local people – served by seven milk rounds – as well as specialist food manufacturers and retailers including ice cream maker, Marshfield of Bath, and Fortnum and Mason.
Milk is provided by Mr Goslings 100-cow Guernsey herd which is in organic conversion, two local farms and dairy company, Axis.
Keen to expand sales through the retail sector to counteract a decline in doorstep deliveries, Mr Gosling targeted local independent retailers who were happy to take his products. However, companies such as Spar, Londis or Forbuoys were less keen.
"I couldnt get product into these retailers because they only wanted to deal with national milk buyers. They prefer central invoicing and cant be bothered with large numbers of invoices from many small processors."
It was at this time that Mr Gosling met Russell Spencer, a self employed representative for independent dairies in the Glos/Oxon area. "Six years ago Nick asked me whether I could create a consortium which would enable independent dairies to supply national accounts such as hotels, contract caterers or retailers," says Mr Spencer.
"I formed the Independent Dairy Consortium which means customers only have one liaison point for payment using electronic invoicing. It also permits a uniform pricing policy which would be difficult to achieve if retailers were dealing direct with many independent dairies," he adds.
IDC provides a route for the sale of milk from independent dairies to contract caterers such as Granada, as well as 200 convenience stores and 500 newsagents including Forbuoys and Martins. The consortium charges a 5% commission to producer/processors and has a £7m turnover delivered by 150 independent dairies.
"IDC provides access to markets that single independent dairies such as mine wouldnt be able to penetrate alone," says Mr Gosling. *
• Provides access to national accounts.
• Deals with invoicing.
• Commission charged at 5%.
Nick Gosling (right) says Russell Spencers Independent Dairy Consortium has helped expand sales to the retail sector.
A web-site catalogue will allow any milk producer access to a wide range of potential customers for a £10/month fee.
Created by the Independent Dairy Consortium, the web-site enables national buyers to source more products from one point. As with the conventional consortium, IDC will handle transactions and invoicing, according to Russell Spencer.
"Any producer can be on the site for a £10 a month fee without necessarily having to do transactions. Customers will be either the public or businesses."
A post-code system will allow customers to source a supplier in their area, giving a local feel to the web-site. Mr Spencer is hoping to attract a range of producers, meaning a large range of products, both dairy and non-dairy will be on offer. www.idcltd.com