November 30, 2011
Wales' dairy firm to process 10 million litres milk yearly
To be able to get fresh milk from cow to customer within 24 hours, a new GBP1.5 million (US$2.3 million) Welsh dairy firm will process and bottle up to 10 million litres of milk each year.
The Proper Welsh Milk Company's dairy in Whitland, Carmarthenshire, will create 14 jobs, rising to more than 40 in the coming years as the business develops, in addition to helping to safeguard work for dairy farmers in the surrounding area.
It will also cut down the average distance the milk currently travels from farm to shelf by an average of 360 miles, greatly reducing the product's carbon "hoof print".
Director of The Proper Welsh Milk Company Dai Miles, who is also Farmers' Union of Wales Pembrokeshire county branch president, said the opening of the new dairy is "excellent news" for the Welsh dairy industry.
"All of our milk is sourced from local farms and will reach Welsh stores within 24 hours of collection, there is a lot of high-quality milk being produced in Wales," he said.
"But the trouble is that most of it has been bottled and processed in England and then it has to make the journey back here to Wales. There was probably a dairy in every Welsh town 20 or 30 years ago but as road networks grew, the smaller dairies were closed."
"This left only a couple of units in North Wales and some very small operations in the South, meaning that almost every pint of milk you've drunk lately has travelled hundreds of miles," said Miles.
"Having the new dairy here means that we can reduce journey times and mileage for getting our milk from the farm to the consumers and it will boost jobs," he said.
"In the current economic climate and rising fuel costs this is great news for farmers and consumers. Welsh dairy farmers have a limited range of options when looking to sell their milk. They often have to accept unfair and unclear contracts, which require them to sell all their milk to just one buyer who has the monopoly over the price they are willing to pay for the milk".
"We are currently looking for more conventional milk suppliers and in future, we hope to diversify into higher-value dairy products."
The dairy, on the site of the former Whitland Creamery, was officially opened by First Minister Carwyn Jones. He said: "In the past, we've seen this dairy process leaving Wales, so it gives me great pleasure to open this creamery and to see that dairy farming and dairy processing have a vibrant future in Wales.
"I wish Proper Welsh every success."
Proper Welsh chairman, Peter Humphreys, said: "We are so pleased to welcome the First Minster to open the first Welsh dairy in a generation.
"It's great to see representatives from Tesco here as well, and we thank them for their great support in stores throughout Wales. This is a great start and we'll be looking to expand our range of products as the business grows."
At present, most Welsh milk travels out of Wales to be processed in "super dairies" across the border.
Whitland is the original home of Welsh milk and was at the centre of Europe's largest milk field after the Second World War before the decline of the industry.
The new dairy will process milk from local farms so that Welsh customers receive the freshest possible 100% Welsh product with a fantastic taste. And Proper Welsh has teamed up with Calon Wen, a co-operative of 25 family farms across Wales, who will bottle their own organic milk at the dairy, to bring the whole process back to its Welsh homeland to ensure the freshest possible milk.
Proper Welsh Milk is available in over 50 Tesco stores throughout Wales, with other supermarkets, independent and local retailers coming on board. Proper Welsh Milk will not be homogenised, giving it a richer, smoother, older fashioned taste with the creamy top of the milk, evoking the taste of proper milk as it used to be.
There are plans also to process cream at the Dairy in due course.
Mark Grant, senior buyer for Tesco, said: "It's rewarding to be able to work closely with Proper Welsh Milk to help them develop and grow by offering technical advice through-out the launch process.
"We're proud to be able to offer our Tesco customers across Wales real Welsh milk that is produced and bottled in Wales."
The company also launched in North Wales this spring, using an existing dairy at South Caernarfon Creameries.