Love the taste of whole milk but want to skip the fat content? Meet the innovative Dorset dairy that’s developing a solution…
Blackmore Vale Milk is stocked in local stores across Dorset and can be delivered to your door, and, you’ve probably consumed BV Dairy’s products without even knowing it. As Commercial Director Harry Cowan tells us, there probably isn’t a ready meal in a supermarket that doesn’t use their products, and their milk, yoghurt and soft cheeses can be found in everything from soups to pre-packed sandwiches and puddings. Which is pretty amazing considering that BV is an independent dairy from Shaftesbury that makes all its produce using fresh milk from 35 local farmers in the Blackmore Vale. Harry let us in on some of their new products and told us why we should all be drinking more milk.
Q. Your milk is from 35 local farms. Is it important to you to support the local community and reduce food miles?
A. It is. All of our farms are within a 16 mile radius from the dairy and we collect most of the milk on a daily basis, processing up to 100,000 litres every day. Our biggest spend is in purchasing milk from that area; we spend around £10 million a year in the local community, supporting the local farmers.
Q. Is animal welfare important to you?
A. It’s top of the list. Twice a year we run seminars for our farmers where topical issues such as animal husbandry or nutrition or medical issues are discussed. Most of our farmers take that responsibility really seriously. We’ve got some really good local farmers – some of them have been with us for two or three generations of the same farming family.
Q. Does being independent set you apart from big manufacturers?
A. Absolutely. As a specialist dairy the majority of what we process ends up in our added value products – things like sour cream, crème fraiche, yoghurt, ricotta, soft cheese. We can offer bespoke services to smaller manufacturing companies so they may say: ‘We’d like a soft cheese but instead of it being 30% butter fat, could you do it with 2% butterfat?’ We love making bespoke products for niche customers.
Q. Are there any exciting products that you’re developing at the moment?
A. We’re putting beetroot flavourings in Greek yoghurt so it can be used in sandwiches without soaking into the bread. Low fat but high protein is where the market seems to be going; high protein products are good for active people. Milk is actually one of the best rehydrating drinks. A lot of people don’t realise that, but because of the protein, it’s absorbed much more slowly into your stomach, which means the liquid side of it rehydrates you quicker than water.
Q. So we should drink more of it then?
A. Yes! As consumers, we’ve gone for skimmed milk. Maybe the lack of fat in the product makes it less attractive for people to drink as a milky drink. Is it a shame? I think it is. We’ve just invested £250,000 in a new reverse osmosis plant – taking the water out of the milk, leaving you with a concentrate. This is to develop a product that allows you to have the fat levels of a semi-skimmed milk but with the flavour of a full-fat milk – we call it supermilk.
Q. You produce soft cheeses; how do you decide which product to make?
A. A lot of it is actually down to customer demand and the processes we have here. It’s also about looking at the trends that are coming though. The biggest trend at the moment is all based on low fat, high protein products. Cottage cheese has died off over the years and sales have dwindled, but there seems to be a resurgence at the moment. We’re developing fruit compote-flavoured cottage cheese, as well as more extreme flavours – like Marmite!
How to use up clotted cream
Got some clotted cream leftover from your cream tea? Harry Cowan tells us how he’d use it up.
1. I like to put some clotted cream in with my scrambled eggs – it gives it a really creamy, luxurious taste.
2. Use it if you want to add a touch of luxury to anything – even your curry sauce, or spaghetti bolognaise.
3. Run out of scones? Top a digestive biscuit with a blob of clotted cream and some jam.