Late 2015, William and Alex Wales joined the steady RAW MILK revolution by installing a DF Italia milk vending machine on the farm in Norfolk. Alex admits that it is selling better than expected. They too had to make the difficult choice to diversify or go under like many UK dairy farmers before them. This is due to the milk crisis and the low farm gate prices paid for milk supplied to processors. Fortunately there were other dairy farmers who took the plunge before them. They invested in the vending machines showing the way forward by selling directly to the consumer.
The dairy is situated in the village of Binham, North Norfolk where they milk over a 120 pedigreed Holstein Friesian cows. It has been in the family for generations. They have installed the vending machine right next to the parlour where they milk the cows twice a day. The milk is sold for £1 or £2 in either 1 or 2 litre plastic containers or customers can buy and fill a re-usable glass bottle. The feedback from customers so far have been very supportive and positive and can be found on the dairy's blog. The locals (and holidaymakers) seem delighted with the prospect of enjoying fresh, unpasteurised milk on a regular basis and being able to collect from the farm themselves.
On the website Abbey Farm Dairy assure consumers that they are a reputable farm with healthy, grass-fed cows and their milk is lab tested regularly for quality. The Food Standards Agency recognise that there is a sufficient demand for raw milk to allow people to make their own decisions and takes a sensible balanced approach to regulating raw milk. Raw milk dispensers are hugely popular on the continent too but in the UK the sale of raw milk has always been more tightly regulated.
Abbey Farm Dairy has also been supplying unpasteurised milk to another farmer Arthur Betts at Ferndale Cheeses for the last seven or eight years. If it wasn't for that that the farm would not be in business. William would have had to sell the herd because the milk prices were that low at the time.
Audio: Interview with North Norfolk Radio. A North Norfolk farming couple say they’ve taken the unusual step of selling raw milk direct from their cows rather than leave the dairy industry. William and Alex Wales sell the raw milk – which means it hasn’t been pasteurised – from a vending machine at Abbey Farm in Binham. The cows themselves graze on the fields near the priory. 15 April 2016 (source).