Wyke Farms Ltd is a family run company based in the heart of the Somerset cheddar-making region. The art of traditional cheese making will never be lost on the Somerset farm where the Clothier family have been making cheddar in Somerset since 1861.Today, Wyke Farms is one of the largest independent cheese makers and milk processors in the UK producing over 13000 tonnes of cheddar per year to the same award winning 150-year-old recipe.
Somerset based Wyke Farms offer positive news to local farmers under pressure
Somerset, UK 19th 2012: – Wyke Farms, the UK’s largest independent cheese producer and milk processor, have today announced a flat rate supplement of 0.5ppl to be added to their milk price for August 2012.
The increase from Wyke Farms is in response to the current challenging environment created by extreme weather. The company, whose farming side of the business is also suffering from the effects of the extraordinary weather, has shared concerns with local farmers regarding the quality and yield of crops.
Richard Clothier, third generation family member & Managing Director, Wyke Farms said, “We recognize that the farmers are under a lot of pressure with forage crops failing because of the extreme weather conditions. We hope that the farmers will use the money to cover winter feed because it is becoming clear that many will be struggling to feed the cows over the coming months”.
Wyke Farms will review their milk price position again at the end of each subsequent month and given that they are also working through these challenges on their own farms, they are asking their cheese customers to recognize the importance of the supplement.
In March 2009 Richard Clothier issued a ‘Call for collaboration’ to the dairy industry. He warned that putting additional pressure on cheese, butter and liquid-milk prices could push yet even more dairy farmers out of the industry (full statement included in ‘Notes to Editor’ below). Now, over three years later Mr. Clothier is urgently calling upon the industry again, this time to other processors to follow their lead and increase milk prices; warning that there is a real risk to UK milk supplies in the next six months if they don’t. He says “Farmers are well aware of the problem, but there is a very real risk that the rest of us are unaware of the true extent of the forage crop failure and the impact that could have on milk supplies in the autumn and winter. To think that a weather change now would make things better is naïve and unrealistic – the pattern of milk supply is now set for a tough winter.”
Wyke Farms has been producing its award-winning cheddar for over a century and has grown to become the largest family-owned cheese maker in Britain selling over 14,000 tonnes annually. The company have achieved substantial growth year on year by staying true to the traditional values behind the brand and have become the fastest growing cheddar brand at a rate of 10% every year for the past five years.
Wyke Farms have 150 years of family farming experience. Wyke Farms’ cheese and butter is made with the milk from their cows grazing the lush pastures of the Mendip Hills in the centre of the Cheddar making region in Somerset.
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A Call for Collaboration….
Desperate times call for desperate measures – that’s what we’re told anyway. With the current state of our challenging economy and dwindling milk supplies, the question over who controls the supply chain is becoming more and more prominent.
For retailers, ‘exercising caution’ in the current economic downturn inherently means they must resist the temptation to be aggressive with suppliers. Although this may feel like a natural course of action under growing pressure, retailers must keep in mind that the farmer supply-base is extremely fragile.
As we all know, the supply of dairy commodities sourced from within the UK remains very low in comparison to previous years, and putting additional pressure on cheese, butter and liquid-milk prices could push yet even more dairy farmers out of the industry. In effect, this means that if the market were to experience another increase in world demand for milk products, we would not have a milk supply base to support our UK demand.
In the end, retailers cater to consumers’ needs, which we naturally assume means the cheaper the better. However, the consumer feedback we’ve received at Wyke Farms clearly shows that whilst people may have less money to spend, they wish to spend it more carefully and their key drivers for purchase remain the same.
Even though shopping budgets are becoming tighter, consumers have not discarded their affection for provenance, health, green issues, and local products. To this end, retailers must resist using primary producers to finance outdated ‘pile it high – sell it cheap’ forms of vending, ensuring that quality products still command their share of the fixture. In return, even greater responsibility lies with Brand Managers, Manufacturers and Farmers to sell these values harder than ever to shoppers. Cutting marketing budgets in periods of tough trading is like raising the white flag to the oncoming charge of cheap supermarket own-label products.
Ultimately, it’s up to us as an industry to work together to get through this time. Maybe it’s time we change the old saying to ‘Desperate times call for better collaboration’. It’s more apparent than ever that the only way for our industry to get through this economic crisis unscathed is by doing a better job of working together, rather than passing the pain down the line, which will inevitably end up at the door of the primary producer – the poor old farmer.