Dairy farm taps new market in unpasteurised milk sales

A NORTH Suffolk dairy producer is finding a small but growing market for his unpasteurised milk which is sold fresh from the farm.

Jonathan Crickmore, who farms at Fen Farm, Bungay, felt there was a gap in the market for the product and was inspired after seeing free range eggs being sold at the side of the road last year.

He and parents, Graham and Frances Crickmore, keep 220 dairy cattle on their 880 acre family farm.

Mr Crickmore, who wants to see UK dairy farmers ‘take control’ of their pricing problems and increase export sales by forming a single co-operative, says he is signed up to all the legal requirements for selling unpasteurised milk and has had an environmental health inspection.

“We have always drunk our milk from our cows. It’s just a fantastic food to drink,” he says.

“I think it’s making a comeback. Once you drink it, if you like milk, you realise it’s much better than processed milk.”

The public seems to agree. Having started on a very small scale, he is now selling around 70 litres a day through passing trade.

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“It’s very easy for them on the way to Bungay. We started off with just half a dozen bottles. Now it’s 60/70 litres a day,” he says.

Mr Crickmore believes the beleaguered UK dairy industry needs a shot in the arm to help it perform better.

He believes farmers should club together to create a co-operative, based on a successful model used in New Zealand earlier this decade.

“We want something led by the farmer. I’m sure I’m not the only person thinking these thoughts,” he says.

The UK, he believes, has plenty of untapped potential for dairy farming, with its climate and pastureland.

He says that since the Milk Marketing Board was abolished, the industry has suffered a decline.

“How can we break this cycle? We simple have to work together,” he says. “What better way than a farmer-owned co-operative.”

He points out that dairy farming in the region is under threat, and says there are now just 32 dairy farmers left in Suffolk, under 50 in Norfolk, a handful in Cambridgeshire and a dozen in Essex.

A National Farmers’ Union spokesman said: “Raw milk is sold under strict conditions and controls for reasons of food safety. We know raw milk sales are important to a number of our members and highly valued by their customers. We have seen no evidence to suggest there is now an increased risk to public health as a result of raw milk and in lieu of such evidence see no reason why this market shouldn’t continue to exist.”