Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 8 December 2016

Clare farm to put milk on tap

Banner couple scoop Farm Ideas award with dairy dispenser

Paul McCarthy

Published 26/01/2010 | 05:00

NOT FAHY AWAY: Brid and Roger are hopeful their winning milk dispenser idea – similar to this Italian one – will be running in April
NOT FAHY AWAY: Brid and Roger are hopeful their winning milk dispenser idea – similar to this Italian one – will be running in April

Shortly before Christmas I was part of a judging panel for the Clare Farm Ideas Awards, a very worthwhile initiative led by Gerry McDonagh of the Clare Local Development Company.

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Local competitions like this will do a lot to create jobs in rural Ireland. There were more than 30 applicants competing for the generous prize fund, with ideas ranging from adding value to farm produce to various new inventions, farm tours and renewable energy. Prize winners automatically go forward to the All Island JFC Innovation Awards for Rural Business. While only some got prizes, they should all be applauded for coming forward and presenting their ideas.

The overall winners were dairy farmers Brid and Roger Fahy from New Quay, The Burren, who scooped the Clean Ireland Recycling-sponsored top prize of €3,000 for their idea of direct selling using milk vending machines.

No strangers to farm diversification, the Fahy's moved into producing ice cream on their farm in 2006 and hope to have their latest venture up and running by April.

Roger first saw the concept work on the continent some years ago, where milk dispensers are common at farmers' markets. Last year's low milk price made them finally decide to go ahead with the idea.

Roger maintains the big plus of the Italian-made Latteria milk dispenser is that it makes selling milk direct to the consumer very simple. The Fahys will pasteurise the milk at home and transport it to their dispenser, preferably at a local shop. Consumers will bring their own containers, insert coins and leave with fresh milk.

Benefits

He believes consumers are ready and willing to buy milk direct from the farmer and can see the benefits of this new approach that supports local producers, reduces their carbon footprint, uses less packaging and provides fresh whole milk.

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The Fahys will replenish the milk, collect the money and service the machine, but, overall, Roger anticipates that the dispenser will be low on labour and will fit in with the daily dairy farm routine. The shop will also get a fair margin as the dispenser will occupy around one square metre of valuable shop space.

Roger also thinks that other dairy farmers should follow his lead. With training on food hygiene and an investment of around €30,000, they could be up and running. The Latteria dispenser does much more than just dispense: it keeps the milk cool, monitors temperature and will even send a text to the farmer when the milk is running low.

It will also provide a full printout of amounts dispensed. Roger believes that the biggest challenge, once it's launched, will be explaining the new way of buying milk to the consumer and really driving home the benefits. But, no doubt, the Fahys' experience in selling ice cream will stand to them.

Irish Independent