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Is ignorance stifling the growth of better food and drink

Hook and Son Raw Milk

Hook and Son Raw Milk

I was annoyed recently by some ignorant feedback placed on a BigBarn webpage for an artisan raw milk producer. I could see that the person had reached their point of view without any thought or knowledge. And frustrated by how hard it must be for artisan producers to justify a higher price for their high quality goods.

I am frustrated that the modern food industry will continue to separate consumers form producers so that our food buying decisions result from clever marketing instead of knowledge. Marketing that will persuade us to buy a ready made baked potato for 75p instead of cooking one for 10p and where milk is cheaper than water in some shops.

One would hope that marketing was about providing knowledge to help consumers make the best buying choices. It seems however that in the food market, where there has been a consistent drop in the level of basic knowledge, many products that have little or no value, sometimes become best sellers, and great products, without reasonable marketing, fail.

Intensive beef production

Intensive beef production

So back to the annoying feedback, and perhaps, the chance to market artisan food and drink? The following was placed on Hook & Son Raw Milk from Mr Braeburn with a dodgy email: Their milk prices seem extortionate considering regular organic milk is much cheaper yet undergoes more processing (homogenised and pasteurised). Raw milk is extracted and chilled…less processing – so why so much more expensive?

I contacted Hook & Son, one of the pioneers of Raw Milk sales, and was delighted to receive a long list of reasons why their milk is priced higher than supermarket organic. With their milk priced at £1.50 (or £1.90/pint, 10 pints delivered) compared to supermarket organic 60p/pint. Here are the reasons:

Raw organic milk is a very different product to pasteurised organic milk. We only have 70 cows and have to pay for a license to sell raw milk together with certification from The Soil Association to confirm that we meet stringent organic standards + the costs of ‘quality control’ measures.
milk glass
We pay for our raw milk, cream and butter to all be tested at a laboratory every week to ensure that it is of the highest standard and have 20 part and full time members of staff all trained to Food safety level. Our cows are grass fed with a more expensive supplement feed of linseed with seaweed. The raw milk has healthy omega fatty acids, conjulicated linoleic acid and probiotic bacteria as well as all the other nutritional benefits. All our milk and milk products come from our cows carefully reared and fed on natural sustainable feeds.

With pasteurised milk, cows are fed grain, the farmer milks the cows and a tanker takes the milk away to be mixed with many other farmer’s milk then put through the process of pasteurisation, homogenisation and bottling. Consequently the overheads are much less with minimal staff.

Moo Man movie

Moo Man movie

What I find extraordinary is why Mr ‘Braeburn’ thinks £1.50 for a pint of Hook & Son’s fresh, nutritious, wholesome raw milk is ‘extortionate’ when a pint of junk, fanta is about the same price and a pint of beer in the pub is twice as much?

We should be celebrating the fact that there are farms like Steve Hook employing 20 local people and supplying raw milk to locals, and anyone else round the country via insulated packaging and a courier service.

I would love to see less mega dairies and many more local dairies selling direct to local people at a fair price, as explained in a previous blog (click here to read it) and is why BigBarn exists. So please see who is in your area using our local food map and ask them about the price of their products. You will probably find that by cutting out the ‘middle men’ many are cheaper than the supermarket like for like. In a way just like Hook & Son as supermarkets are not allowed to sell raw milk.

To see Hook & Son’s webpage and buy online click here or a trailer of the brilliant Moo Man movie all about Steve, his cows, and raw milk click here or the picture above.

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