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Dairy looks to the future

Dairy looks to the future

Monday 01 June 2020

Dairy looks to the future


A new purpose-built dairy will benefit everyone in the industry through operational savings and "putting money back into the local community", according to the States-owned utility's manager.

The States Trading Supervisory Board, which is the Dairy's shareholder, has submitted a policy letter asking for business cases to be drawn up for a major refurbishment of the current site and the creation of an entirely new facility, which is the Dairy's preferred option.

It has been some 30 years since the current site at the Bailiff's Crossroads underwent any significant refurbishment and the construction costs for either option have been estimated at around £25m, leading to efficiency savings of more than £500,000 a year.

Last week, the Dairy published the results of an island-wide survey about the consumption of Guernsey Dairy products and how important the public consider the industry to be to the island's landscape. 

Looking ahead to the future, General Manager Andrew Tabel said the main focus was on consolidating its market share and improving its facilities. 

"There’s always opportunities for doing lots of things but what we want to do first is consolidate where we are, have a facility that is fit for purpose, which has a reduced cost base and that exceeds environmental standards. That in itself will be a major step in the right direction."

Guernsey cow cows cattle

Pictured: More than three quarters of those who responded to the survey said that Guernsey cows are an important feature of the island's landscape.

80% of the dairy's revenue comes from milk sales, which have taken a hit in the last five years due to the rise of plant-based alternatives. 3/10 households who responded to the survey said they purchase plant-based alternatives either instead of or in addition to cow's milk. 

Mr Tabel thinks that the dairy industry is "here to stay" and that those advocating these alternatives in the UK, for example, have had success in speaking out about the dairy industry's carbon footprint and unethical practices. 

A number of those concerns do not apply in Guernsey, said Mr Tabel, and he said they need to do more to emphasise that.

"We don’t support intensive farming techniques, we have a more traditional, olde worlde way of doing things and we need to get that message across so that people can make an informed decision."

The percentage of households drinking Guernsey milk has reduced from 97% to 89% in the last five years, with plant-based products eroding the Dairy's monopoly on the market.

milk

Pictured: Low fat milk remains the most popular type, with skimmed milk sales dropping off in recent years.

However, Mr Tabel says getting the States' endorsement of the Dairy's future and kickstarting the rebuild process would be a positive step in the right direction. 

"The next phase is all about getting the impact assessments and the environmental impact assessment.

"It’s not about digging a hole and pouring with concrete, it's about having a fit for purpose dairy and all the efficiencies that go with that, which will put money back into the local community and that is something we will all reap the benefits from."

Pictured top: Andrew Tabel at the Dairy. 

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