In this exclusive interview, managing director Azhar Zouq and brand manager Jack Morrison discussed the manufacturer’s recent £1m investment, plus the challenges facing the company in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Fundamentally we’ve been driving the message around free-range and I think that’s something that customers have picked up on,” said Robinson. “Our core range of 1kg natural yogurt is doing really well and that combined with the welfare statement around free-range is something that’s been latched on to.
“In terms of the wider narrative of how we sit in the market, we’ve seen really strong growth and that’s what this [investment in] automation and the plant is to do – to focus on continuing forwards in the future.”
Consumer demands fro free-range
The focus on free-range had been heavily influenced by customer demand for products perceived as being more animal-friendly, said Zouq.
The coronavirus pandemic had been a cause for alarm for a majority of food and drink businesses, with Lancashire Farm Dairies being no exception. However, Zouq said that his business had been able to thrive despite the devastating impact of the virus on the industry.
“There’s been a lot of panic buying by consumers – which is understandable – about four weeks ago and I think that’s plateaued out,” he added.
Weathering the coronavirus
“We’ve been more into retail, the independent market and ingredients a lot more than we’ve ever been in foodservice. We’ve been in a very good position, but not without its challenges.”
The business saw massive sales during the peak of coronavirus panic buying, Robinson explained. While demand stayed strong after the initial period, the knock-on effects sparked a new way of thinking for both distribution and the operation of its site.
Zouq and Robinson went on to talk about the growth of automation in the dairy industry and the need for the sector to adapt to its implementation if they wish to continue being successful in the future.
All this and more is covered in this exclusive podcast recorded for Food Manufacture.
Meanwhile, experts from four key William Reed titles – Food Manufacture, The Grocer, Morning Advertiser and MCA Insight – chart the pandemic's impact on the industry in this exclusive podcast. They address how the industry has coped and the current pressures it is now facing.