Dairy expansion creates jobs

Dairy expansion will create new jobs

1 February, 2010

Cornwall’s dairy sector was given a boost this week with the
news that Trewithen Dairy – third largest buyer of milk in the
county – is about to embark on a major expansion.

With the aid of a record £5.7 million grant from the Rural
Development Programme for England (RDPE) in South West England,
Trewithen is set to increase its production by 80 per cent from 25
million litres of milk a year to 44 million – more than 80 per cent
from direct supply farms.

The phased expansion will take place over four years and see the
dairy, at Greymare Farm, near Lostwithiel, create 40 new jobs and
increase its production capacity for fresh milk, clotted cream and
butter milk. It also plans to move into the production of soft
cheese and to develop other products.

RDPE is managed by the South West RDA and in approving the
grant, the Agency considered that the Cornish economy would benefit
from:

  • benefits passed back to a growing number of supplier farms to
    reflect the high cream content of their milk and a reduction in
    haulage costs
  • adding value to the raw milk in situ by processing it into new
    products, and
  • benefits to local customers and retailers who will have access
    to a range of local dairy produce;

The dairy has agreed to continue its practice of paying farmers
above the South West average price per litre. The premium derives
from the higher cream content required by Trewithen which is
separated out in processing and used for their soft cheese and
cream-based products. Other processors dealing with liquid milk
stipulate lower cream levels to avoid the generation of what they
regard as a by product.

The expansion programme will include a larger processing area,
improved infrastructure and purpose-built new offices and staff
facilities, which will replace temporary accommodation.

There will also be major investment in equipment and staff
training aimed at further improving the quality of products and
service.

The project also includes the creation of a Farm Liaison Manager
post specifically to build effective relationships with suppliers
and to focus on building the quality and consistency of supply.

Trewithen will also strive to achieve greater “professionalism”
to satisfy the challenging requirements of the big supermarket
chains that have contributed to the dairy’s growing business
volumes in recent years.

But managing director Bill Clarke stressed that the independents
and “corner shops” would remain the foundation and core of the
business. “These have always been at the heart of our development,”
he said.

“We are tremendously excited to have been awarded such a big
grant, which will facilitate major investment resulting in win-win
all round – for Trewithen Dairy, for Cornish farmers, for all our
customers and for the Cornish economy.

“More than anything, it will enable us to consolidate and
progress our vision of working with the farmer milk suppliers to
continue giving them one of the best milk prices for the best
quality Cornish milk, with excellent cow welfare and care for our
environment.”

South West RDA Board member Nick Buckland said: “Trewithen
Dairy’s plans offer an extremely important boost for the Cornish
dairy sector. They are totally in line with the objectives that we
are working to achieve through RDPE investment in the County and
will further reinforce the significance of food and farming for
Cornwall’s economy.

“As well as increasing Trewithen’s own production and range of
products, this project will develop the dairy supply chain in
Cornwall by increasing the number of the farmers who supply it and
by offering a premium price for milk. The development of the soft
cheese will make full use of the cream content to support the
premium price paid to the farmers. It will also mean that less milk
has to be transported out of the county.

“It is a huge commitment that will help Trewithen, and its
suppliers, become more successful and competitive.”

RDPE is jointly funded by the EU and Defra and RDPE programmes
specifically for this region are managed by the South West RDA.
Business support from RDPE is provided through the Government’s
Solutions for Business services.

Cornwall Agri-food Council supported Trewithen’s application for
RDPOE funding. Its chairman, Catherine Mead, said: “The dairy
sector is the largest sector of the agricultural industry in
Cornwall and we support activity that adds value to Cornish milk
and, more importantly passes a proportion of this added-value back
to farmers.

“This project, by supporting another buyer in the market place,
will help to generate competition for milk.”

She said that Trewithen’s expansion plans were in accord with
the objectives of the Cornish dairy industry strategy published in
1999 and reviewed in 2007:

  • To exploit existing and new market opportunities for dairy
    products;
  • To build and improve the processing capacity in Cornwall by
    encouraging new starts, by reinvesting in and expanding existing
    businesses and by attracting inward investment;
  • To improve the competitive performance of Cornish processors
    through bespoke business development support; and
  • To strengthen Cornwall’s dairy farming base through improved
    production efficiency and improved marketability of the milk
    supply.

Ends

For more information on Trewithen Dairy, please ring Bill Clarke
on 01208 872214

For more information on RDPE or to speak with other people
quoted in this press release, please contact Pat Murray. RDPE
Communications at the South West RDA, on 07733264756

Notes to editors

Trewithen Dairy

The Clarke family has been at Greymare Farm since 1977, starting
with just one employee and expanding cow numbers from 70 to 300.
They started processing in 1994 and the latest investment will be
in bottled milk immediately and soft cheese later. The dairy’s
existing products also include Cornish clotted and liquid creams,
butter, yoghurt and crème fraiche.

Only five months ago, Trewithen created another 25 new jobs by
investing £1 million from its own resources in improved facilities
and products to meet the continuing growth in demand from its three
customer bases – the independent retailers and corner shops, the
South West’s thriving food processing industry, and the supermarket
sector.

Mr Clarke, who owns and runs Trewithen with his wife Rachel and
their son Francis, is a well-known figure in South West farming
circles. He is a former South West and Cornwall county NFU chairman
and NFU national council delegate.