The 'I love Isle of Wight Milk' campaign is starting to have an impact according to the Chairman of the Isle of Wight dairy farmers group, Justin Birch.
'I love Isle of Wight Milk' has brought Island dairy farmers together to promote their milk because they are currently being paid less than the cost of production by milk processors. It is a nationally recognised problem - but on the Isle of Wight costs are even higher because of ferry charges so the situation is even worse. The campaign is supported by the Island's MP Andrew Turner and many local organisations and businesses. A petition supporting the campaign has received well over 1,000 signatures and cards printed by the campaigners are being handed into local supermarkets encouraging them to stock Isle of Wight milk.
Three national supermarkets with stores on the Island have now contacted the campaign and Mr Birch and the group's secretary Louise Hart are following up the enquiries.
Mr Birch said :
"This is a great start; the campaign is really starting to have an impact. One of the keys to success will be getting Island milk into more supermarkets, but in the meantime those shops who already sell Island milk are reporting increased sales. We now need to work on converting the enquiries we have got into Island milk appearing on the shelves - and also encouraging smaller shops and large users of milk to consider taking it. Although there is a long way to go - I am buoyed up by how far we have come already and I know the other Island dairy farmers are heartened by the support they are getting from the community."
Mr Turner who has written to all supermarkets bosses said he was also pleased at the response. One of the responses he has received is from Mark Smith, the Chief Executive of Southern Co-operatives who have 10 stores on the Island. Mr Turner said :
"Mr Smith has confirmed that the Southern Co-operative is actively interested in discussing whether Island milk can be included in their 'local' range. Although he gives no commitment at this stage, he hopes to reach agreement to sell it alongside other milk - as they have existing buying commitments from off-island suppliers. All we are asking for is for Islanders and visitors to be given a choice. We know many would prefer to buy Isle of Wight milk. Since the campaign got underway lots of people are saying they want to buy it - but unless it is readily available they are denied that choice. I am looking forward to working with our dairy farmers to put that right."