WEATHERING the dairy industry’s price war has not been an issue for one farmer – whose business is booming.
Mabel’s Dairy owner Sid Betteridge managed to stay afloat during a similar supermarket price war nearly a decade ago.
But realising he either had to make changes or shut his farm’s gates for good, Sid decided to turn his 35-year-old Ilmington-based farm into a self-sufficient dairy.
He is now seeing the fruits of his labour, with customers choosing to buy their milk from him instead of supermarkets.
The 70-year-old, who still runs the farm with the help of his three daughters, told the Observer: “As we are a small farm of just 80 free-range cows we realised we just couldn’t carry on as we were.
“We came to a decision that we would need to change in order for us to survive as a dairy farm. We started to pasteurise our own milk and do our own doorstop delivery. We spent many hours delivering leaflets to get it off the ground but we now have over 600 door-to-door customers and supply to local shops, cafes and farm shops. We even run our own shop at the farm.
“We pride ourselves in being able to milk the cows and within several hours the milk is pasteurised, bottled and on the customer’s doorsteps.”
The farmer believes it is this service and supporting a farm which is ‘going alone’ that means customers do not mind paying more for their milk than they would at a supermarket.
The cost of a pint at Mabel’s Dairy is 60p, which while considerably more than the £1 for four pints charged by most supermarkets, customers have the satisfaction of knowing exactly where there milk has come from.
Farmers up and down the country have been protesting the low price paid to them by suppliers who pasteurise and bottle milk before selling to supermarkets. Most see less than a quarter of the amount a bottle sells for in shops.
Sid said: “Charging 60p a pint just about earns us a living. With the cost of keeping the cows and then the process of pasteurising, bottles, packaging and finally delivering, this doesn’t leave a huge profit margin.
“We have seen a increase in customers since it has come out that supermarkets are paying farmers unfairly.”
Visit www.genine.co.uk/mabelsfarm to find out more about the farm.