Preserving A British Tradition
Whether it’s in a delicious milkshake at Crème, ice-cream at Poco Gelato or in a latte from Cappucino Bakery, good quality milk is at the heart of so many of our favourite things. N.F Collins & Sons Dairy provides milk to all 3 of these establishments (as well as a number of others), and has been serving the Leigh and Southend areas for over 100 years.
In that time things have changed a lot. For a start the area Collins covers has grown substantially and, as a result, the milk is no longer delivered by milk float. The range of products they deliver is also much bigger – with Collins now offering 150 products including pet food, fruit juice, bread, eggs and more.
The most startling change however, is in the dairy industry itself. Particularly over the past 20 years, the dairy farming industry has suffered greatly due to supermarkets pushing the price of milk down to below production cost. The rise in popularity of cost-focussed supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, has further increased the pressure to drive down prices across the board, putting an astronomical amount of dairy famers out of business.
According to an article published on the Guardian website in 2012, the number of dairy farmers in the UK fell from 28,000 in 1995 to just 11,000 in 2011. In addition to this, 1 in 5 of these remaining dairy farms faced imminent closure due to rising debt and falling milk prices – according to an article published on the Telegraph online in February 2016.
Thankfully, some supermarkets now have schemes in place to ensure that farmers are always paid above production cost for their milk, as well as being rewarded for good animal welfare standards. Collins Dairy buys its milk from a supplier who works alongside British farmers to ensure that they always get a fair price too, but buying your milk from a dairy rather than a supermarket is about more than just ethics. Collins Dairy and their milkmen provide a little extra something that no supermarket could ever provide…
Gary Hooper of Collins Dairy says, “Supermarkets are not only destroying the British dairy farmers but also a British tradition. In 1975, 94% of milk was put into glass bottles (according to Dairy Crest) but by 2012 this had fallen to just 4%. Unlike the supermarkets, we are the eyes and ears of the community. Some of our staff have worked on the same round for over 30 years and have seen children grow to become parents. Come wind, rain or shine we make sure that customers receive their products – but it’s not just about milk. They truly love their customers and the loyalty they give back too. Terry, the local Leigh milkman, has served the area for over 20 years.”