The dairy officially opened yesterday (Thursday October 26) on the site of the former Whitland Creamery in Carmarthenshire and hopes to bottle up to 10M litres of milk each year, safeguarding the livelihoods of local Welsh farmers.
Proper Welsh director Richard Arnold told FoodManufacture.co.uk that by cutting the distance the milk travels by an average of 360 miles, the new dairy would prove commercially viable.
“We’ve taken control of the whole supply chain,” he said. “We pick the milk up from farmers at no cost to them and we deliver locally, so the milk isn’t doing huge journeys.”
At present most Welsh milk travels out of Wales to be processed in ‘super’ dairies, he said. Then, if destined for the multiples, it is transported via a regional distribution centre in, say, Bristol or Widnes, before travelling back to Wales.
“We can deliver to 50 Tesco stores in Wales direct, so we can chop a huge amount off the mileage,” he said.
This appoach reduces not only the product’s carbon ‘hoofprint’, but also the associated fuel costs, which have risen exponentially in recent years, said Arnold.
Another factor which makes the Proper Welsh operation more efficient than other dairies is that the milk is not homogenised, he added.
“In our dairy there is a pasteuriser and a separator and then a gap where the homogeniser would have been. Homogenisation is a massively expensive process and uses huge amounts of energy.”
Besides the financial benefits of omitting the homogenisation step, Armold says it results in a richer, smoother, taste.
Consumers will pay a premium for the Welsh milk that is processed by the dairy, but not much of one, said Arnold. Milk from the new dairy costs £0.01 a pint more expensive than other milk.
The dairy has cost £1.5M to build, of which not a penny has come from government grants.
“We had to raise the finance privately, through Triodos Bank in Bristol, which is part of a Dutch ethical bank, and Finance Wales,” he said.
Calon Wen, a co-operative of 25 family farms across Wales, also has shares in the business, and will bottle its own organic milk at the dairy.
Proper Welsh Milk is on sale from this week in over 50 Tesco stores throughout Wales. On its first day the Caernarfon store sold out of the milk.
The firm also launched in North Wales in June, using an existing dairy at South Caernarfon Creameries.