'There's a big difference between 30c/L and €1/L' - Farmer on selling his milk direct to the marketplace
His working day can stretch from dawn to 10 at night but Nicky Doyle has no regrets about opting to sell his milk direct to the marketplace
Five years ago Nicky Doyle got fed up with milk price volatility and decided to branch out on his own and sell the 1,800 litres of milk which he was producing daily at his 70-acre farm directly to local shops.
It was a decision based on simple mathematics: "I came to the conclusion that I would make more money selling directly in the market on a sale and return basis. There's a big difference between getting 30c/l from Glanbia and a euro a litre from selling directly to the supermarkets and artisan shops," the 54-year-old says of his decision to go independent.
And thus began the Fairfield Farm milk brand which is available in shops along the east coast from Wicklow down to Waterford.
Nicky runs a herd of 50 Holsteins and British Friesian crosses. Having decided to go solo, he got up to speed with the art of pasteurising milk by completing food safety and management courses. He also "swotted up" on the business by consulting other independent milk producers in Valentia Island and Mitchelstown and then secured Department of Agriculture approval for his venture.
The next steps were to build a €70,000 pasteurising plant and refrigeration facilities, source a milk carton producer for his own brand product and buy a refrigerated van to transport Fairfield Farm milk to market under his logo: "Milk as it used to be".
Then came the knocking on the doors and selling the milk. His first customer was the Ardkeen Quality Foodstore in Waterford and this breakthrough was quickly followed by orders from the Petit supermarket chain in the south east. Other artisan stores followed along with SuperValu shops along the east coast.
Nicky's unique selling point is the traditional taste of his milk.
"There is a difference in my milk in that it is only pasteurised and not homogenised. It has a completely different taste. And non-homogenised milk is better for the heart according to the studies.