Can consumers trust they are buying what they think they are buying?

Campaigners behind the Enjoy Milk cause believe they have a new future for British Dairy cows.

The integrity of the Enjoy Milk campaign is based upon multiple principles, of which one is that dairy cows should be allowed to graze grass as often as possible. Enjoy Milk describes this as “free ranging”. Others may also call it, as with eggs, Free Range.

There is an overwhelming perception from The Great British consumer that this is how they would prefer the cows to live their lives, with 86% of surveyed agreeing “that UK dairy cows should be able to graze on pasture and should not be permanently housed indoors”.*

In the latest industry statics, 36% milk** was produced from cows that spend between 100% and 83% of their lives completely indoors. And this appears to be totally contra to what shoppers believe and want for the cows, that produce the milk they buy, to be living like.

To have a better understanding of the considerations and challenges faced by dairy farmers and their cows, for moment consider the incredible diversity of the Great British countryside has. We live in a country with a hugely diverse climate, landscape and soil type with no two counties being the same let alone no two farms. Our shoppers know this and they govern the guiding principles of what is expected from a claim of “free range” milk.

However, the definition of “free range” dairy farming is crucial and people behind the Enjoy Milk campaign are calling for legal clarity over the use of the term.

Enjoy Milk campaigners believe because of the Great British geographic diversity, we need to trust the farmers to make the best decision that is in the best interest for their cows.

In the meantime, the Free Range Milk Marketing Board, founded by the same people as the Enjoy Milk campaign, have developed an application process and compliance procedure to ensure 100% integrity of the milk from “Enjoy Milk” dairy farms. Making sure the farmers not only are committed to acting on the Free ranging principles of Enjoy Milk, but they are also able to be a Free Ranging milk farmer.

Guiding principles and requirements
Enjoy Milk dairy farms have to commit to achieving the maximum days possible for grazing outside. Whilst no dairy farm is the same, it is possible to objectively and simply determine whether an individual farm is committed to grazing or not. Routine housing of the dairy stock at times of the year when it’s reasonable to expect cows to be grazing in fields is NOT permitted. Exceptions will be made for adverse events requiring temporary housing, such as flooding or biosecurity issues

Application process
All applicants must provide evidence in support of the application to supply free ranging milk. In order to be robust but without causing an additional red tape burden on already hard pressed farmers, this evidence will rely on existing farm data, including:
1 A total farm plan clearly showing the defined areas of
grazing and areas set aside for conserving winter
forage such as silage.
2 Number of livestock units held on the farm
3 Evidence to show adequate housing for all stock that
require housing outside of the grazing season.

Ongoing monitoring and compliance
All Enjoy Milk producers will be asked to submit annual management plans showing clear evidence of the grazing period achieved. The Enjoy Milk team are also investigating an interactive package of software to make the process of compliance and monitoring easier and real time related.

In the absence of a legal definition of free ranging for dairy cows, the purpose of these requirements is that there is an un-debatable clarity as to what the Free Range Enjoy Milk promise means, so any dairy producing farmer and the trusting British shopper can buy in confidence.

For the Enjoy Milk founder, Nick Hiscox, asking a dairy farmer to commit to these requirements is an un-negotiable line in the sand.

However, for Nick, Enjoy Milk is more than Free Range. It’s a future that brings together a sustainable dairy industry for both farmer and consumer. With the commitment from the dairy famer to grass based dairy farming also comes a commitment from Enjoy Milk to provide its supplying dairy farmers with a contract that pays the farmer in a way they value and believe is more than fair.

As well as supporting milk from pasture grazed cows, 87% consumers surveyed wanted “farmers to receive a good price for their milk” ***

“How can dairy farmers plan and invest in the future without knowing where they are financially?” Nick explains, “Enjoy Milk is a campaign to ensure that as the farmer commit to the Free Ranging principles, the Great British Shopper, by choosing their milk, can in return ensure these farmers are receiving a fair contract for their hard work.” Enjoy Milk calls this ‘Fair Dealing’.

There are few examples where British dairy farmers are supplying direct to retailers, like Tesco, under a cost of production contract, however these dairy farmers are only a fraction of the total dairy sector. It is estimated that 82%**** of dairy farmers are not on a retailer direct supply contract, which is around 7,800 farms in the UK.

And these are the farmers that the Enjoy Milk campaign is out to preserve and support, helping stem the flow of farmers leaving the industry and the trend towards herds consolidating and getting bigger. “By making it clear what Free Range is, the Great British shoppers and dairy farmers, together we can build a Free Range Future, one that celebrates our green and pleasant land.”

How to support Enjoy Milk Campaign?
Enjoy Milk will have a distinctive ‘Black Cap’, rather than the traditional blue, green and red caps. Consumers will know that this milk has been approved with the Black Cap free ranging, fair dealing promise.

Shoppers will find these caps, from Enjoy Milk approved British dairy farms, once the milk hits the shelves in early Spring 2017. The Black Cap will be on both existing regionally branded milk which shoppers may be already buying locally, and with the Enjoy Milk branded cartons in major retailers.

The goal for Enjoy Milk is that this milk will be available everywhere. For now, the dairy loving Great British public can show they support at @EnjoyMilkGB and across all social media channels.

Summary objectives
Integrity of a promise from any brand is paramount especially when it comes to the food we buy; what is “on” the bottle has the risk of becoming more important than what is “in” the bottle. Not so with Enjoy Milk. The Enjoy Milk campaign is about creating a future that is both valued and understood by British consumers – and a sustainable future for British dairy farmers that join this movement (moo-vement !)

What defines “Enjoy Milk” is the distinctive “Black Top” on every bottle. This is a representation of the Black Top “promise” that Enjoy Milk is truly ”free ranging, fair dealing, great tasting, 100% Great British milk”!

And that is better for everyone. And a place that celebrates and preserves a future of Free Ranging cows.


Further information:
Rob Ward 07773777097
Nick Hiscox 07931581381


KEY Facts:
* , ***, & **** Ref: YouGov 2015 file:///Users/Admin/Desktop/EM%20milk%20where_does_your_milk_come_from.pdf)

** Agricultural Horticultural Development Board (AHDB)

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