HARD-PRESSED dairy farmers should look to the plethora of successful Yorkshire food producers for inspiration because price volatility undermining their businesses is here to stay, the operations chief at leading ice cream venture said.
At an event organised by tourism body Welcome to Yorkshire, members of the rural business community heard how Yorkshire Dales-based Brymor Ice Cream had forged ahead after a tough period which threatened its very existence.
After business owner Robert Moore died last year Brymor’s future was in limbo but investment earlier this year by local entrepreneur Paul Hodgson has seem the firm re-establish itself as a leading dairy operation, and ambitious brand expansion plans are afoot, led by operations director Nicola Moore - daughter of the late Mr Moore.
Miss Moore acknowledged that there was no end in sight to price volatility for milk, making it vital for farmers to examine how they can develop their own niche markets using milk from their herds.
Brymor, which employs 12 full-time staff, has its own niche in that it is one of just three dairy firms in the UK using milk from Guernsey cattle for ice cream. It is chosen for the flavour its six per cent butterfat content lends it. The company now produces 40 flavours of ice cream.
“If you have a great product, a good team and a shared vision, and there’s a need for that product on the market, you’ll be successful,” Miss Moore said.
“With that in mind, we would absolutely encourage dairy farmers to look at other routes for adding value to their operations because it’s safe to say that it’s unlikely they’re going to get any other support from anywhere else to save the industry. All kinds of dairy farms and farmers generally need to find ways of reaching more direct markets.”
She said the region’s rural business community was supportive of one another, which plays into the hands of local food producers, adding: “What we’re focused on at Brymor is networking with other producers. We’re so lucky in Yorkshire to have so much great local produce. From a farming and diversification perspective, it’s a case of promoting that.”
Now Brymor can look forward again, Miss Moore explained how she planned to grow the business.
“We are in discussions with retail multiples and are already listed with Waitrose and the Co-operative. We want to make sure we are listed with as many retail multiples as possible.”
Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, who spoke at the networking event at Brymor’s Jervaulx base, said: “Family farms like Brymor are the backbone of our rural economy. One of the main planks we use to promote God’s own country is its food and drink, it differentiates us from other parts of the UK and the world.
“Farmers are facing a challenging time at the moment so it is important for us to stick together and support each other’s diversification.
“I’ve recently met with Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss who was hugely impressed by Yorkshire’s promotion of its food. We’re making sure Yorkshire is forefront in the Government’s campaign to promote British produce.”