St Helen's Farm Blossom Honey Yogurt

Source: St Helen’s Farm 

The sale follows the implicaiton of the brand in an animal welfare scandal last year

Norwegian dairy supplier Kavli has sold goats’ milk brand St Helen’s Farm and farming operation Yorkshire Dairy Goats – which were implicated in an animal welfare scandal last year – back to its original owners.

The value of the low-key sale, first reported by Norwegian newspaper Finansavisen earlier this week, has not been disclosed.

A spokesman for Kavli – which also owns the Primula and Castle Maclellan cheese brands in the UK – said the sale had followed a “strategic review of its operations”, but declined to comment further.

The buyers of St Helen’s Farm are goat farmers Angus and Kathleen Wielkopolski, who established the business 35 years ago, and sold it to Kavli in 2014.

St Helen’s Farm, which sells a range of goats milk, yoghurt, cheese, cream and butter via retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons and Co-op, reported sales of £16.5m in the year to 31 December 2020, according to accounts posted at Companies House in September – representing a drop of 7.8% on the previous 12 months.

The fall in turnover was partly attributed to a halt in sales from many of the brand’s customers following an undercover exposé of one of its farms last July, which alleged serious animal welfare breaches by staff.

St Helen’s Farm halts milk supply over alleged animal welfare breaches

The accounts showed the cost to the business of resolving the scandal amounted to just under £500,000 for the combination of unsaleable stock, customer claims and “other costs incurred in relation to this issue”.

However, the business managed to reduce an annual operating loss of £937,000 in 2019 to £533,000 last year due to reduced input costs and operational efficiencies. And its accounts stressed the supplier quickly regained its Red Tractor certification in the wake of the scandal following audits by the body.

As part of the divestment transaction, the sales and marketing of St Helen’s Farm’s products will now be handled directly by the Wielkopolskis, with all other operational matters managed from the dairy, located near York, Kavli said.

“We know St Helen’s has a very loyal consumer base that really enjoys the benefits of consuming goats’ dairy products,” said Angus Wielkopolski.

“The brand is built on quality and taste, which is why it’s so loved. We look forward to serving our loyal consumers and bringing even more into goats’ milk dairy.”