How can you add value to your milk?
With milk prices fluctuating are you wondering how you can add value to your milk right now? I’ve searched the internet for some recent musings on adding value to your milk to hopefully secure a better income.
You can add value to your milk by selling raw milk directly to customers on your farm. There are currently over 150 produces in the UK selling raw milk to the public.
The sale of raw drinking milk and cream is legal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Sales of raw milk and cream are completely banned in Scotland.
It can only be sold directly to the consumer by:
- registered milk production farms at the farm gate or farmhouse catering operation
- farmers at registered farmers’ markets
- distributors using a vehicle as a shop such as a milk round
- direct online sales
- vending machines at the farm
It’s illegal to sell raw milk and cream in any other setting.
You must register with The Food Standards Agency before you start selling raw milk.
Word of caution – you need to make sure you are legal. The NFU explains the law in their article Raw milk: Are you legal?
There is an increase in farmers pasteurising their own milk to sell via vending machines, both on and off-farm. There is one business that keeps coming up in my search – The Milk Station Company which appears to be the authority on milk vending machines! They have nearly 80 machines around the country, including the Channel Islands and a number of customers who have multiple machines in different locations, due to the success of their first one. Check out their interactive map to find your nearest one.
I’m sure you don’t need me to stress – research your market and compile a strong business case prior to any financial commitment.
The third way to add value to your milk is to turn it into cheese. For centuries farmers have been making cheese but the history is quite chequered. I’ve found a great article by The Courtyard Dairy: A History of British Cheese – The modern-day British Cheese Revival which is well worth a read. Written in 2016 they report that the rapid growth in artisan cheese production has led to the position where Britain is now reported to have over 750 different cheeses, characterised by distinct cheeses made by individual producers. Many of these have been created only in the last 30-years, and the current trend suggests Britain’s farmhouse cheese industry continues to grow in quality, diversity and flavour
If you would like to find out more about the challenges and successes of making cheese, Rural Business Network members Allison and Jonathan Raper from the multiple award-winning Teesdale Cheesemakers spoke candidly about their story at an event last Autumn. To access the audio recording, join Rural Business Network now.
Another way to add value to your milk is to make it into yogurt. Yogurt is made with pasteurised milk that has gone through a process called homogenisation which makes it smooth and creamy.
Dairy UK explains that the milk is then kept warm and harmless bacteria are added, which turn the milk’s sugar (lactose) into lactic acid. This in turn thickens the milk and gives it its characteristic tangy flavour.
Once the yogurt reaches the right acidity level, it is cooled and any fruit or flavourings are added. The harmless bacteria usually remain, which is why yogurts are often described as ‘live’ or ‘active’.
I’ve found a number of farm retailers on my search and I particularly like the feel of the Rora Dairy website who are based just outside of Peterhead in Scotland.
The final way to add value to your milk in this blog is to turn it into ice cream. The popularity of farm ice cream has exploded in recent years and many producers are now tourist attractions in their own right. Adding value to your milk this way is likely to be the most time consuming and largest in financial commitment so make sure you research the option thoroughly.
There are hundreds of ice cream producers which you can locate in the British Dairy Ice Cream Finder. The Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire has taken ice cream selling on their farm to the extreme, turning it into an ice cream fantasy land. Where there was once a milking parlour for 300 cows there now stands a family theme park with the world’s largest purpose-built ice cream parlour (Guinness World Records-endorsed) and up to 8,000 visitors on a busy day.
This has been a very quick overview of how to add value to your milk. If you would like to be inspired by the challenges members Allison and Jonathan Raper have overcome, hear about their successes (and how they celebrated), and find out about their plans for the future join Rural Business Network now.