Football fans searching for a different match-day drink are queuing up for milk from a north Wales dairy farm.
Llaethdy Plas Isa Dairy’s milk vending machine outside Glan Conwy Football Club has proved such a hit that a series of table-top ‘filling stations’ have been installed at shops around the locality.
Two years ago, the Jones family decided to set up a dairy on their Llansanffraid farm and sell directly to the public after finding a gap in the market for locally produced milk.
Rachael Jones, who farms with her husband Huw, said, “We had our milk delivered, but it came from outside the area. We asked our milkman why it wasn’t local and were told there wasn’t anyone selling milk around here.”
Rachael and Huw began to look into how milk from her family’s dairy herd could be sold to the public. Everything came together quickly, as at the same time they were discussing the new venture with Cywain, they heard about some much-needed specialist equipment that had become available.
“In the same week, we began talking to Cywain, we heard about the sale of a pasteurisation unit. So, we went there are ended up buying it. We built a large extension to our dairy and installed a cool room.”
Now all the milk is pasteurised on farm where it is divided between glass bottles, the vending machine, and local in-store table-top ‘filling stations’. Also, plans are underway to supply a local milk-round with full fat, semi-skimmed, and skimmed milk, as well as banana, chocolate and strawberry flavours.
The business has led to the creation of one full-time and three part-time jobs, with the highly experienced staff having been employed previously at a local creamery which closed down.
Llaethdy Plas Isa Dairy’s vending machine is situated in a hut near the pitch at Glan Conwy Football Club. Just off the A470, it is easily accessible for customers and a hit with football spectators.
Rachael said, “When it is match day, it is really busy. We give people compostable BioPak cups made from plants, not oil – and which hold the same amount as a small bottle. We don’t want to use plastics, so we’ve made a conscious decision to use glass bottles and eco-friendly packaging.”
In addition to plain milk and three constant flavours (strawberry, banana, and chocolate), Llaethdy Plas Isa Dairy introduces three special flavours each week.
In total, the business sources 42 different syrups including innovative flavours such as salted caramel, cream egg, blueberry muffin, rum & raisin, honeycomb, vanilla and candyfloss.
The whole family is very much involved in the enterprise, including children Cari (20), Morgan (18), Martha (12), and 20 month-old Ani.
“The children are the tasters when we’re adding the flavours, and we’ve got special flavours lined up for Christmas and Hallowe’en.”
Llaethdy Plas Isa Dairy’s milk is also sold in local stores, from table-top ‘filling stations’ containing 13.5 litre (Pergal) milk bags. The milk is dispensed into a bottle – or the customer’s own container – to which they can add a flavour before paying at the shop’s till.
Throughout setting up the business, Rachael has received advice from Cywain – a project that works with food and drink producers across Wales, helping them grow and develop their business, with support in a range of areas, including marketing, brand development and finance advice.
“I’ve had a range of help from Cywain, branding, business plans, webinars, and generally being there when I need them; they have been amazing.”
Louise McNutt, Cywain Development Manager, said, “Llaethdy Plas Isa Dairy is bringing valuable local skills back into use, collaborating with other local producers and small business and providing a fun and wholesome product to their community and its visitors.
“It’s great to see what Rachael and Huw have already achieved. Creating employment and making use of valuable local skills that could otherwise be lost all adds to the positive impact their venture is having on the local community.
“Always happy to learn, find creative solutions and work alongside others to make the most of the help available, Rachael is an unstoppable force of fun and positive energy and this comes across in the branding work that Cywain helped to support. I wish Rachael and Huw all the best with their venture and look forward to see what they come up with next!”