I first came across The Dorset Dairy Co about a year ago when I bought a pot of their amazingly scrummy Dorset Strained Yoghurt from The Brace of Butchers in Poundbury. I am always a sucker for good branding and beautiful packaging and the pots really caught my eye in the fridge. The yoghurt is absolutely delicious – smooth and creamy, perfect by itself or using in recipes instead of cream! It’s now a regular on my shopping list whenever I go to the butchers.
The story behind The Dorset Dairy Co is touching. We all know how difficult it has been for dairy farmers to eek a living out of selling their milk to the supermarkets. Dan and Alex took the plunge and created a new product using the milk from their herd of Fresian-Holsteins. And huge congratulations to them, it’s delicious, beautifully branded and made with care and love.
Alex Rawe, co-founder of The Dorset Dairy Co has given us some insights into the backstory of The Dorset Dairy Co.
What is the story behind setting up The Dorset Dairy Co?
Dan is the third generation of the family to embrace the world of dairy farming and started working full-time on the farm in Stalbridge when he was 18 years old. I was brought up in London and worked in corporate finance, but I kept up monthly visits to my grandparents in the quiet village of Hinton St Mary in North Dorset. After meeting Dan (on Tinder!), I did not take much convincing to quit my job and move to Dorset!
Dan wanted to turn the farm’s milk into something special and I wanted to promote a return to unprocessed, natural, farm fresh foods. We had a great time experimenting making cheese and yoghurt on the AGA, and we found that, by straining set yoghurt through cheese cloth, we could achieve a thick, creamy texture, which was an instant success with our family and friends. As a result, The Dorset Dairy Co developed its first product, Dorset Strained Yoghurt, otherwise known as Dorset’s answer to Greek yoghurt. Dan designed the yoghurt facility himself and built it on the farm with the help of friends and local contractors. Meanwhile I teamed up with Gemma-Lea Goodyer, a brilliant Dorset graphic designer, and Luke Lench, a fantastic Dorset photographer and website developer, to establish a brand synonymous with tradition, health, a clean label and provenance. We launched in the autumn of 2016 and have been growing ever since.
What products do you make?
Dorset Strained Yoghurt is created using nothing but natural ingredients and traditional techniques. By using milk straight from the farm’s herd of Friesian-Holsteins, we know that it’s of the highest quality and comes from a high-welfare cow, born and bred on the farm. The herd roams the pastures at Crib House Farm for as long as the weather permits with the bulk of their winter feed consisting of farm-grown silage. The condition of the cows and the overall herd management often receives high praise by visiting vets and dairy specialists.
We currently produce two types of yoghurt, Whole Milk Dorset Strained Yoghurt and Fat Free Dorset Strained Yoghurt, available in 180g, 500g and 800g pots. The Whole Milk yoghurt is smooth and creamy while the Fat Free yoghurt has a tangier flavour. They both make a filling breakfast or snack, not to mention a handy ingredient in cooking.
What is the process for making your yoghurt?
Dan fills up the milk trolley with fresh morning milk, wheels it across the yard into the yoghurt room and pumps it into a vat. We do not homogenise the milk or add thickeners or concentrate, nor do we process the yoghurt to make it smoother – meaning each batch is unique. All we do is pasteurise it and add the live bio cultures required to make yoghurt along with probiotics, as we believe these come with health benefits. We then pour the mixture into cloth bags and hang them up to strain out the water and lactose, the old fashioned way. This results in a luxurious creamy texture – proper yoghurt, Dorset style – which tastes delicious, is packed with protein and essential minerals and is also low in sugar.
We are very much an artisan producer: not only does our product not have a food chain, but our straining process is not mechanised. We use over 3 litres of milk for 1 kilo of yoghurt and we have yet to come across any company in the UK that produces yoghurt in this manner.
Where can customers find your products?
Through 3 local distributors we supply around 65 retail outlets in the South West (mostly Dorset village shops, butchers, farm shops) on a weekly basis. We supply our local independent supermarket directly every week (Dike & Son) and local restaurants, hotels, schools and nursing homes through a fine food distributor. Our largest single outlet is Farmdrop in London, an online farmers market.
A list of stockists can be found on our website: http://thedorsetdairyco.com/contact/
The Dorset Dairy Co will be running an in-store tasting at Felicity’s Farm Shop at Morcombelake on Saturday 15th July from 10am-12pm.
They will also be at Newton St Loe on 28th August (10am-5pm) for the Newton Farm Shop‘s Open Farm Day, offering retail pots and sharing favourite yoghurt toppings.