The secret of success in niche dairy supply is spotting openings before anyone else and fulfilling them, according to Highgrove’s joint founder and managing director Keith Collins.
“We don’t have the huge budgets that the Arlas and the Nestlés have, so we have to be slightly more shrewd than them and cover the ground quickly,” he says.
The company, which is based in Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, and has no links to royalty despite the name, supplies the big four supermarkets with a broad portfolio of milk, butter, cream, yoghurt, fromage frais, milk shakes and desserts, in both branded and own label. This adds security by spreading risk, says Collins.
And then there’s goose fat. “Three years ago one of the major retailers asked all its yellow fat suppliers if they could supply goose fat,” says Collins. “We were their smallest but the only one that came back saying yes. From a small idea we have created a niche branded Highgrove product that does very nicely for us.”
It is 15 years since Collins created Highgrove with a friend, after working for Heinz and Anchor and wanting to branch out on his own.
Now the company has a turnover of £6m, a staff of nine and three directors with a combined 80 years of dairy industry experience between them. Highgrove claims to have been the first company to link an organic product to a television character six years ago, through a tie-in with children’s favourite Noddy.
Meanwhile, Highgrove’s Gold Top brand of milk from Jersey and Guernsey cows, which was launched five years ago, and its Breakfast Milk brand have helped fuel the premium end of the milk category, which now forms a cornerstone of its business.
Greg Meenehan