The Guernsey Dairy is owned and operated by the States of Guernsey and has 37 employees with an annual turnover in excess of £6 million.
The Dairy’s ‘Statement of Purpose’ is to provide a modern processing unit for the local dairy industry, that supplies a range of high quality milk and milk-products for local and export markets.
- To satisfy the local demand for processed fresh Guernsey milk at an acceptable price to the consumer.
- To operate commercially within the context of government intervention designed to maintain Guernsey’s traditional countryside.
The Guernsey Dairy performs a vital milk processing and marketing role, operating at the interface between the raw milk producers (Guernsey’s dairy farmers) and the people of Guernsey, as customers. The Milk and Milk Products (Guernsey) Law 1955 (much amended) instituted what is effectively a States monopoly over the supply of liquid milk on the island. The prevention of imports in this way has acted as a key factor in protecting the island’s dairy farming industry and preserving the unique nature of the Guernsey countryside.
Before the late 1930s the island had two private dairies, one a farmer's cooperative, the other, Grove Dairy was a private enterprise based in the parish of St. Andrew. Both were taken over by the States of Guernsey prior to the Second World War and the Occupation of the island.
Many Guernsey residents evacuated the island before Nazi invasion including some dairy farmers. Due to the shift in population and the change in day-to-day life at the beginning of the Nazi Occupation, local dairy farmers reverted back to trading individually. Once established in the island, the occupying forces soon instructed all farmers to send their milk to one main processing facility. This continued after the island was liberated in May 1945, and by 1951 the island had its own purpose built dairy located in the heart of St. Andrew, which is still home to the current facility.
The introduction of the Milk and Milk Products (Guernsey) Law 1955 also saw the start of pasteurisation of raw milk on the island. Pasteurisation is the process that eliminates harmful organisms, pathogenic bacteria and viruses in milk, by heating the milk to a critical temperature for a minimum amount of time.
Due to a shortage of funds following the Occupation, the States of Guernsey could not afford to buy bottling equipment, even though the new building made provision for it. Instead, milk distributors carried milk churns across the island and supplied their customers with milk directly into jugs or into traditional Guernsey milk cans - the shape of which permits the least loss through slopping of the precious contents.
The bottling equipment was never purchased and pyramid-shaped Tetrapak cartons were introduced in the 1960s, followed in the late 1970s by the unusual and quirky ‘milk in a bag’, complete with a jug to hold it in. These didn’t win much favour with islanders and were soon replaced with the now familiar and firmly established litre and half-litre cartons that remain in use today.
The number of farms has reduced significantly over the years from over 500 in the 1930s to 400 in the mid-1950s. Today there are 18 registered dairy farms on the island producing in the region of 8 million litres of milk per year from 1,500 milking cows. In the past milk was either collected by the Dairy in churns from around the island or was delivered to the processing site by the farmer. The milk was tipped onto scales and measured in pots (1 pot = 2.272 litres) to ensure the correct payment was made to the producer. Today, all milk is stored in refrigerated bulk tanks located on each farm and is collected daily by a custom-built milk tanker. The tanker is fitted with specialist measuring equipment to monitor and record the milk being collected from each farm. The data is then up-loaded to a bespoke piece of software that reconciles the figures for payment.
- The Guernsey Dairy has an annual turnover in excess of £6million and currently employs 37 part-time and full-time staff.
- Liquid milk sales account for approximately 83% of annual turnover.
- The Dairy purchases on average 8 million litres of raw milk from 18 local dairy farms per annum.
- The Dairy operates 7 days a week, 365 days a year to reflect milk production and the demand for liquid milk in the island.
- All milk produced on the island is collected and processed by the Guernsey Dairy.
- Each year the Dairy manufactures approximately 200,000kg of butter - both salted and unsalted. Guernsey butter can be found on sale in Waitrose stores across the UK and is also proving to be popular amongst Michelin starred restaurants, chocolatiers and ice-cream makers.
- Approximately 116,000 litres of cream and 110,000 litres of ice cream are sold locally each year.
- Recognised for its award-winning cheeses, the Dairy sells on average 24,000 kg of mild, mature, extra-mature and smoked cheese a year.
- 2008 launched its first soft cheese called Frie d’Or, or ‘meadow of gold’ in Dgernésiais – the island’s indigenous language.
- Approximately 22,500 litres of milk is collected, tested, pasteurised and packed every day. The most popular type of milk on the island is low fat (73% of sales), followed by skimmed (16%) and full cream (11%).
- The Guernsey Dairy works in partnership with a single organic dairy farm on the island with both businesses having to receive accreditation from the Soil Association each year to maintain their organic status.
- Guernsey milk is distributed across the island by a network of small independent businesses that form the Guernsey Milk Retailers Association (GMRA).