A new brand of milk has arrived on the Isle of Wight, but it has not had far to travel! Isle of Wight milk is being produced to try to stop the dwindling number of dairy farmers on the Island, and give them a fair price for their produce,
Paul Griffin, of Briddlesford Lodge Farm, initially pursued the plan and believes Isle of Wight Milk is a way of protecting the Island’s heritage, ensure farmers get a fair price for their milk and reduce the impact on the environment by cutting travel distances.
Isle of Wight milk is initially being sold in three Co-operative Food stores, The Co-operative Food in Cowes (Mill Hill Road), Freshwater (Afton Road), and Shanklin (Regent Street), but it is hoped that local support will enable it to be sold in even more locations across the Island. It is available for £1.50 for a two litre bottle of either whole milk, semi-skimmed or skimmed.
Paul was aware of a number of farmers who were close to bankruptcy as the price of milk had dropped to about half of what it costs to produce.
Paul, the fourth generation of the Griffin family to run his farm, said: “As a dairy farmer, we were looking at decimation on the Isle of Wight. There wasn’t going to be a dairy industry.”
Of the millions of litres of milk being produced each year, Paul estimates about 80 per cent needed to go off the Island for processing. Briddlesford has recently installed its own processing plant to produce its premium milk from Guernsey cows with a much larger capacity than needed. The plant will cut the costs of production while ensuring the highest standard of processing with a 12-day shelf life.
To start the milk flowing, Paul has initially linked up with Read’s Farm in Carisbrooke which is run by Reads Farm Partnership Kaysie and Mark Reed and assisted by Mark’s wife Jodie.
Mark, who has around 280 Friesian cows, said: “The year 2016 was one of our worst as we were basically getting out of bed everyday just to lose money. It was playing on our minds a lot especially as we have three other people we employ here. We had to make some very difficult decisions.
“This new brand is about working together and ensuring a future for our family and our farm. It gives us hope. Our main goal is to look after our cows. If you look after them then they look after you.”
Matt Elliott, who looks after the Local Flavours range at Southern Co-op, said: “We started our Local Flavours range on the Isle of Wight over a decade ago and we are always impressed at how supportive the community is of each other.
“We are all really excited about it and very proud to have been asked to be the first to sell it in our stores. There have been a number of smaller businesses we have supported in their journey of growth and we hope this is going to be another success story.
“We have been assured of the quality and it is hoped that Paul will be able to get more dairy farmers involved in the future if demand starts to outstrip supply.”
For more information on Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours range, visit www.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk/food/local-flavours/.
For more information on Briddlesford Farm Dairy, visit www.briddlesford.co.uk/.