Mon. Nov 30th, 2020

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

Local producer helps protect Island food supply during pandemic

3 min read

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An Isle of Wight dairy producer has helped residents get essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic by supplying thousands of litres of milk to local co-operative stores.

Staff at Briddlesford Lodge Farm’s processing plant have been working around the clock since people begun panic buying ahead of the lockdown producing IOW Milk.

Over the last month, the new local milk brand has replaced other standard milk products in Southern Co-op’s convenience stores which has freed up space in delivery vehicles for other essential products.

Around 7,000 units of IOW Milk are now being sold each week in Southern Co-op’s nine Isle of Wight stores alongside cream and butter products from Briddlesford Lodge Farm.

Matt Elliott, part of the Trading and Format team which looks after the Local Flavours range at Southern Co-op, said: “As with all retailers, we saw initial panic buying which led to a shortage of product in stores as the distribution network struggled to keep pace.

“The challenge was primarily around getting the product through the depots, delivered to store and onto the shelves. Our colleagues simply couldn’t put the products on the shelves fast enough.

“Having supplies from a producer on the Isle of Wight has made a massive impact on the stock on our shelves. Every unit of milk which is supplied by Briddlesford Lodge Farm has freed up space on a delivery vehicle.

“Our stores continue to focus on core products which are in demand and, thanks to help from our suppliers, distribution centres and colleagues, we are now seeing the situation begin to improve.”

IOW Milk was trialled by Southern Co-op in October 2019 as part of its commitment to support local suppliers.

It was later rolled out to all nine of its stores in December. These are The Co-operative Food – Shanklin in Regent Street, Sandown in Avenue Road (petrol station), Rookley in Main Road, Ryde in West Street, Bembridge in Sherbourne Street, Cowes in Mill Hill Road, Carisbrooke in the High Street, Freshwater in Avenue Road and Afton Road.

IOW Milk is a partnership between Read’s Farm in Carisbrooke and Briddlesford Lodge Farm as a way to protect the Island’s heritage, ensure farmers get a fair price and to reduce the impact on the environment by reducing travel distances.

Briddlesford’s processing plant stops milk having to go off the Island to be processed and ensures the highest standards with a 12 day shelf life.

The milk currently costs £1.30 for a two litre bottle of either whole milk, semi-skimmed or skimmed. It is also available in 500ml and one litre bottles.

Paul Griffin, from Briddlesford Lodge Farm, said: “Our dairy staff are working flat-out to meet this demand but it is a win-win in terms of supporting both Isle of Wight food and farming and our wider local economy.

“Together, we are reducing food miles, and maintaining supply lines to our Isle of Wight customers when the distribution network of the whole country has been compromised due to Coronavirus.

“Everyone is under immense pressure, whether we are concerned about the health of family and friends, or locked down and unable to enjoy the normal freedoms that we expect as human beings. However, it is really great that we have food producers and processors that are able to maintain the essential supply of high quality Isle of Wight food and dairy produce.”

For more information on Southern Co-op’s Local Flavours range, visit www.thesouthernco-operative.co.uk/food/local-flavours/.

For more information on Briddlesford Farm Dairy, visit www.briddlesford.co.uk/.