In the last year, First Milk has been busy expanding its milk-based product portfolio - taking several large steps beyond cheddar cheese into the wider value added dairy category.
Since April, First Milk has launched three new dairy products under its Lake District Dairy brand, including a range of flavored quark, a fresh milk and fruit juice product called Frumoo, and most recently, Caffe Latte, a coffee-flavored milk drink.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, David Young, marketing director at First Milk, said that the Glasgow-based dairy cooperative has no intention of slowing its value added ambitions.
“Over the last six to eight months we have launched more innovations than any other British dairy,” said Young. “Our future as we see it is to keep on doing that - keep introducing new and different dairy products to the category.”
“We have a lot in our innovation pipeline. What you’ve seen in just the start. There is a lot more coming from First Milk.”
“We can’t say exactly, but we will be doing a lot more in this area,” said Young.
Consumers “clamoring for more”
As well as diversifying its product portfolio through innovation, First Milk has been busy boosting its value added dairy presence on other fronts. Most recently, in May 2012, the firm marked its entry into the sports nutrition arena through its acquisition of CNP Professional.
Prior to its innovation and acquisition push, First Milk focused primarily on cheese.
It remains a leading supplier of cheese to UK retailers, but understands that the best margins lies outside of staples, said Young.
“The future involves identifying what’s great in a product, and amplifying it,” said Young. “The future is definitely about formatting products to meet the demands of modern life, while supplementing our lives with great nutrition.”
“All the feedback we have had from consumers about the recent developments, such as Quark and Frumoo, suggests that they are clamoring for more.”
“We want to be recognised as the most innovative firm in the British dairy industry. And I think we have managed that already," said Young.
“Well received” by farmer members
This value added dairy focus has also been given full backing by First Milk's board of directors and its 1,800 dairy farmer owners, said Young.
“It is fair to say that we are a fairly unique business, in that our board are mostly farmers,” said Young. “So, all of these recent decisions have gone through the board.”
“The innovations we have launched so far have been really well received by our members."
First Milk's recently-published financial results for the year ended 31 March 2013 detailed a £40m loss in revenue, and a pre-tax loss of £7.8m. Meanwhile, a financial report detailing First Milk's performance in the six months ended September 2013 tells a different story, detailing a £41m increase in turnover to £280m.
The full impact of First Milk's Lake District Dairy investment will be seen at the end of the fiscal year, said Young.
“Well, we set a revenue target of £100m for our Lake District Dairy brand to meet in two years. The way we’ve started this year, I think we’re well on our way to meeting that target.”
“Come back to us at the end of the fiscal year,” Young added.