Our Cow molly

A South Yorkshire-based dairy farm is set to supply milk directly to Co-op Group stores across Sheffield as part of the retailer’s initiative to champion local produce.

Milk produced by the 90 dairy cows at Hector Andrew & Co’s dairy farm on Sheffield’s outskirts will be delivered on a daily basis directly to several Co-op stores in the city from later this month under the farm’s Our Cow Molly brand.

It meant shoppers would be able to buy milk from cows grazing as little as a mile-and-a-half away, said Eddie Andrew - who runs the family farm set up by his grandfather in the 1950s - with stores able to order the next day’s milk until 5pm.

“We will then milk the cows and bottle through the night, and deliver from the farm to stores first thing in the morning,” Andrew said.

“This is the first time in a long time that a supermarket has sold milk produced in the city, and it means the customer is getting a super-fresh milk with the time taken to transport from cow to customer reduced to a matter of hours rather than days.”

Andrew’s grandfather Hector - now in his 90s - began selling his milk locally in churns. The farm diversified into ice cream production in 2007 and sells direct to the public through its farm shop, local independent retailers and in foodservice.

Shoppers were now choosing to pay extra for a fresher product with local provenance, “rather than buying milk which travels for miles to a large processing hub”, added Andrew.

“It’s a way of adding value to our product, and we all know that selling milk as a loss leader is obviously not working,” he said. “There is just one dairy farm serving the whole of Sheffield, and I see that as quite a spectacular failing for the dairy sector.”

The Co-op launched its pilot Local Sourcing Initiative in Yorkshire last September, with a plan to roll out the scheme to other parts of the country within a year. Plans were currently being finalised on how many stores would stock Our Cow Molly milk in Sheffield, a spokesman for the retailer said this week.

The Co-op has signed up more than 50 manufacturers and micro producers to provide its stores across the county with a range of locally produced items including eggs, bakery, ice cream, sweets, chutneys, pies, sausages and beer.

Customers wanted to buy more local products in store, said Co-op head of local sourcing Kate Jones when the scheme was launched last year.

“Our unique local sourcing initiative has been designed to break down the barriers, which have previously made it difficult for small companies to supply large national organisations.”