Family-owned dairy company’s free-range pilot program yields success
Date published: 06 August 2019
Azhar Zouq, managing director of Lancashire Farm Dairies and Olympia the cow
The first dairy company to launch free-range yoghurt in the UK, Lancashire Farm Dairies, has revealed the results from the pilot program.
The Rochdale based company piloted the program in spring 2017, committing to only using free-range milk in every yogurt pot. Lancashire Farm agreed a minimum of 150 days grazing with its farmers, paying them a premium for delivering the grazing guarantee.
60% of their farmers signed up in the first year of the program, which tested the feasibility for the farmers in terms of their infrastructure and the surrounding climatic conditions, and delivered 162 days on average, exceeding the 150 days minimum expected.
Azhar Zouq, managing director of Lancashire Farm Dairies said: “At Lancashire Farm we see ourselves as innovators and strive to provide the best product for our customers while maintaining the welfare of our farmers and their cows, and that is why we introduced the grazing guarantee.
“As we paid our farmers a premium to deliver the grazing guarantee, we wanted to understand whether the premium was justified and sustainable for them to produce milk at the new standard. Together we worked through segregation, in terms of haulage and collections ensuring milk is never mixed with non-free-range milk, and we were pleased with the results.”
The pilot program allowed cows the freedom to benefit from roaming the fields, improving their welfare. It also ensured that the farmers benefited by saving on feed and bedding, as well as receiving a higher price for their milk.
Mr Zouq added: “We used our pilot year to gauge the farmer’s opinions on the project and reviewed the impact seasonality and grazing has on milk quality to ensure we can continue to make great products.
“As a result, when we finally launched going free-range on packaging in 2018, our producers achieved 174 days, yet again exceeding the 150 days grazing guarantee and the results from our pilot program.”
Since introducing the move to free-range to customers with a brand make over, Lancashire Farm Dairies has seen an increase in sales of one fifth since the free-range products hit shelves at the start of 2018.
Free-range branded pots of Lancashire Farm Dairies natural yogurt, mango, and strawberry flavours are available in retail stores nationwide including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda.
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