First Milk, the UK's largest farmer-owned dairy business, and Morrisons supermarkets have set up a strategic partnership to improve sustainability throughout the British cheese supply chain.
The initial step for the partnership has been to work with a group of First Milk's dairy farmers in Ayrshire on projects that can boost efficiencies on farm. After discussing a range of options, the producer group put forward two renewable energy projects.
Firstly, investigating the potential to use wind turbines to generate, use and/or sell electricity. Secondly, exploring the recovery of heat used in bulk milk tanks in order to produce hot water. Morrisons has agreed to support the initial trials for both projects and assist in the roll out to the wider First Milk membership.
First Milk's chief executive Kate Allum commented: "As a business we take our environmental responsibility very seriously and want to reduce energy usage and dependency by our sites and our producers.
"By working alongside Morrisons on these renewable energy projects, we can introduce members to alternative methods of energy consumption, while delivering financial savings to them that can be re-invested in other areas of their business.
"We will now trial both projects and following a review, plan to make the technology and learnings available to all our farmers."
Morrisons Head of Agriculture, David Evans, said: "Our partnership with First Milk epitomises what the Morrisons Farm programme is all about. We are working directly with farmers and investing in projects that have the potential to deliver long term benefits to the farming industry.
"The new 'on farm' trials of wind turbines and heat recovery in Ayrshire are particularly satisfying as these have developed from our earlier research work which identified that dairy farmers could use renewable energy forms to cut annual electricity bills by a third.
"As with other research projects developed through the Morrisons Farm Programme we are committed to sharing what we learn from the trials in Ayrshire with the wider farming community."
Notes for editors
Wind turbine project
In general, dairy farmers use a significant amount of grid electricity to produce milk. This consumption of this electricity has a large cost attached to it as well as having an environmental impact.
Farmers are unique in that they generally have large areas of land available to them. In the right location this land can be harnessed to produce wind power to generate electricity using small-scale wind turbines.
The government has heavily incentivised investment in small-scale renewable energy projects through the 'FITS' payments scheme, which was introduced in April 2010. This gives a guaranteed (index linked) return for 20 years.
Heat recovery project
All First Milk members have a bulk milk tank that uses compressed gas to cool their milk either by direct expansion or ice bank. A large amount of energy is used to run the compressors, which in turn creates lots of heat that is vented out into the atmosphere and wasted.
Smart-Heat is a system designed and marketed by First Milk's partner Fabdec that captures this waste heat and uses it to produce free hot water for use on the farm. This not only saves money but also helps to conserve valuable natural resources.
First Milk has been the major supplier of British Cheddar into Morrisons for a number of years. The creameries at Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire and Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula are the two main sites where cheddar is produced for Morrisons. The main volume of cheddar is sold under the Morrisons brand and is clearly labelled as British to ensure that the Morrisons shopper knows the origin of their cheddar.
Morrisons launched its Farm Programme in 2009, developing a network of farmer groups across the UK to drive applied research with the core aim of developing a sustainable British agriculture industry. The farmer groups currently cover dairy, beef, lamb, pork and poultry.
For further information, contact:
Jill Coyle (communications manager, First Milk) on 07825625205.
Louise Welsh (agricultural manager, Morrisons) on 07929 525713.
9 August 2010