Source: Pembrokeshire Creamery

 The business was in discussions with a number of retailers for the supply of Welsh own-label milk, said MD Mark McQuade

Startup milk processor Pembrokeshire Creamery is looking to secure distribution deals with several major supermarkets in Wales ahead of its commercial live date in May, according to MD Mark McQuade.

Building work at the £20m processing plant, based in Haverfordwest, began in 2021. Once operational, it will be the first large-scale facility to bottle own-label Welsh milk in Wales since the collapse of Wrexham-based Tomlinsons Dairies in October 2019.

No major supermarket has been able to sell Welsh-flagged milk since the demise of Tomlinsons due to the need to transport Welsh milk across the border to England for processing.

Backed by major veg supplier Puffin Produce – which is based nearby and owns the Blas y Tir brand – the new creamery is set to hit a target of 70% of its phase one processing capacity of 60 million litres of milk a year by this summer, McQuade told The Grocer.

Pembrokeshire Creamery intends to supply milk in traditional poly bottles, with a minimum 30% recycled content. “We have to be able to give a credible offering which matches what’s already out there in the supermarkets,” McQuade pointed out.

However, there was also an opportunity and capacity for other packaging solutions and even other types of dairy product in due course, he promised.

The processor has plans to double that phase one capacity by next year, he added.


Source: Pembrokeshire Creamery

The factory currently employs around 60 staff and intends to source its milk from farms within a 30-mile radius – some of which have already been recruited, added dairy sector veteran McQuade, who has worked for businesses ranging from McQueens Dairies to Grham’s the Family Dairy, Müller and its predecessor Robert Wiseman Dairies plus Medina Dairy and First Milk.

The business had the ability to transport milk to retailer distribution centres across Wales, he added. 

“Arrangements are in place to give us the milk we need [at launch], but we are also looking to recruit more and align ourselves with similarly-minded farmers – prepared to work with us on sustainability and a with a carbon focus. We want to source as ethically as we can,” he said.

Pembrokeshire Creamery recently announced its June milk price of 39.34p per litre. The UK average was 37.42ppl, according to the most readily-available data from Defra.

“We’ve already had a number of positive discussions with retailers and a number have come to positive conclusions,” McQuade said. “Our focus is on Welsh cows, Welsh grass, Welsh milk and supplying retailers in Wales. The interest we’ve had gives me a clear indication we don’t need to cast the net any wider.”

The creamery also hopes to use the Blas y Tir brand with a new milk range, due in the second half of 2024.

“There is nothing on shelf at the moment that you would regard as an alternative to own label. So piggybacking on to the Blas y Tir brand is something our farmers have already asked for,” he added.

“Penetration is really good for that brand, so we think it will translate strongly to [milk sales].”