Ice cream offers dairy option

Struggling Dairy farmers are being offered a support package to help them break into the ice cream market.

David Otterburn, of ice cream makers Ryeburn of Helmsley, winner of the Supreme Champion Award.

Farm diversification has been the saviour of many farming businesses, allowing many to limit exposure to volatile commodity prices.

And while opening a separate enterprise on a farm has become a well-worn path, for some, turning to ice cream production has proved highly successful.

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The Ice Cream Alliance, the trade body for the UK’s £1 billion ice cream industry, is offering a package of training and support to help farmers create successful products and businesses.

Zelica Carr, the Alliance’s chief executive officer, said: “There are plenty of opportunities for dairy farmers to break into the ice cream market. The industry is currently enjoying one of its best ever years and the sector is forecast to continue its growth for at least the next five years.

“We can offer farmers a superb business start up service with advice and training from some of the industry’s most skilled and experienced operators.

“Already many dairy farmers have joined our association and are now running highly successful businesses. They have discovered that instead of getting just a few pence per litre for their milk they can turn it into ice cream and increase their yield to more than £18 per litre.”

The Otterburn family who run North Yorkshire ice cream makers, Ryeburn of Helmsley, pulled out of dairy farming more than 20 years ago having diversified into ice cream in 1988 to add value to their operations.

When the then milk quota rules changed and they had to declare milk used in their ice cream as part of their quota they sold their dairy herd and now source milk for their ice cream from a dairy.

David Otterburn’s parents Richard and Christine set up the ice cream business. Richard is the company’s production manager.

He said: “It’s something that dairy farmers should consider. It does involve a big outlay to begin with - at least £30,000 - but we have no regrets about the direction we chose.”