Finalists announced for the FG/Waitrose Best Young Farmer Producer Award 2007

For 2007, it is the battle of the dairy producers – from milk to rum butter, there’s a wide spread of value added goods represented – and the challenge to cows comes from goats instead of sheep this year. FG takes a look at those awaiting the judges’ visit.

Warren Goff

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Aged 33, Warren farms in partnership with his wife and wife’s parents at Monach farms, Colchester, Essex.

Producing luxury farmhouse dairy goats’ milk ice cream under the Caprilatte brand, the business sells though its own farmshop, wholesale via Tastes of Anglia and into local restaurants, pubs, farmshops and delis. While the family has produced goat’s milk for over 40 years, the ice cream idea was born just 3 years ago – but has already Caprilatte ice cream has been honoured with a certificate of excellence in the 2006 National Ice Cream Awards.

"With a sharp rise in lactose intolerance from cows’ milk, people are looking for palatable alternatives. We have developed a top quality product that tastes as good, if not better, than cows’ milk dairy. Just ask my customers!"

James Strachan

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James, 29, manages the 240-acre Rendham Hall farm himself, working in partnership with his parents and brother on the added value Marybelle business. Milk from the farm’s own 180-cow herd, plus that from two other local herds, is processed on farm into pasteurised milk, yoghurt, cream and ice cream.

The wide range (which includes natural, bio and greek yoghurt, creme fraiche and 30 flavours of ice cream) is sold to schools, hotels, restaurants, cafes, retirement homes, golf clubs, local shops and supermarkets. The Marybelle brand is always used, and milk goes out via their own delivery network.

Local and fresh is a central part of the marketing theme.

"I would like to develop the yoghurt and ice cream over the next 12 months so we are ready to ride the crest of the wave on the regional sourcing phenomenon."

Rhys david Lougher

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Rhys, 25, farms in partnership with his father and grandparents on a 120-acre dairy unit at Pyle, Bridgend, South Wales.

Ty Tanglwyst Dairy takes milk from the herd and processes it on farm for bottling and cream production. This is then delivered locally to over 700 houses, along with restaurants, pubs, golf courses, cafes, care homes and a specialist local ice cream manufacturer.

Freshness and the benefits of reduced food miles are key to the marketing, and the business also benefits in being unique in the local marketplace.

The aim is the continue to grow doorstep sales, which the milkmen believe possible because customers enjoy the taste and local angle, as well as increase the catering custom. The potential for nutritionally enhanced milk is also being looked at.

"I would like to develop the yoghurt and ice cream over the next 12 months so we are ready to ride the crest of the wave on the regional sourcing phenomenon."

Richard Mawson

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Richard, 29, farms as KM & KM Mawson with his family at Bailey Ground, Seascale, Cumbria.

The dairy herd supplies milk for bottling, as well as cream, butter, rum butter and fudge – with ice cream being planned. The marketing thrust is very much centred around the local angle, with all the produce going in a 30-mile radius in the West Cumbria area.

A farm open day with BBQ, displays and a visit round the newly opened dairy was a huge success and other local initiatives, including the launch of rum butter in association with a local, permanent exhibition at Whitehaven, are also cashing in on the desire for quality local produce.

"We delivered open day invitations to 2,000 houses and 600 people came ... the open day turned us from the farm who made noises and created smell into their village farm"

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