Brades Farm: 'This hype will not be around forever'
The hype around alternative milks will not be around forever and people “will wise up to it,” Brades Farm Joe Towers has said.
Brades Farm launched the UK’s first dairy barista milk to the market and along with his brother, Edward scooped the British Farming Awards Dairy Innovator of the Year award (2017) for this initiative.
And despite consumer demands for alternative milks, supermarkets price wars and plummeting prices, it has continued to see growth in the business.
It currently supplies a wide range of operators in the market including Redemption, Gales and Elan and has 400 cows on the Lancashire farm.
“If you look at the milk category more broadly you see the growth in alternatives of 20 to 30% and soya milk is at probably flat growth. But you have to remember it is coming from a very small market share,” he explains.
“This is good for us and we see growth as consumers tend to be more discerning about what cows milk they buy and baristas are making more discerning choices.”
He is critical of the prices charged by alternative milk suppliers and their statements on the sustainability of their products.
“It is quite hilarious because they (alternative milks) go on about the carbon footprint which is nonsense,” he says.
“Look at the premium they are charging. If they use less resources then it should not cost more.
If dairy farmers got paid that much for our milk there is a lot we could do with that money and we could plant thousands of trees for the environment.”
He says that while health has been an issue for many consumers with a backlash over dairy products this has changed.
“A few years ago everybody believed that fat was bad and fat in dairy was bad. But that has been turned on its head now as scientists changed their mind on butter and milk and realised it is quite good for you,” he says.
“The result is that people have flocked back to whole milk, which provides a better flavour, especially with coffee.”
One area where Brades Farm has been innovating is in its sustainability, traceability and carbon footprint credentials.
It actively invites baristas and head chefs to their farm in Lancaster to see where its fully traceable product comes from and to see how it farms.
And in its committment to reducing its carbon footprint it has worked to reduce its methane impact on the environment.
Towers had read about a type of seaweed called Asparagopsis Taxiformis and how scientists had discovered a reduction in methane emissions when it was fed it to cows. He was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship initially looking at how this could be developed and came across a company called Mootral, which produces a natural food supplement. He launched a pilot with Mootral and after feeding the supplement to its cows it showed a reduction in emissions of 30%.
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