Semex Conference 2014: Twenty years after the end of the Milk Marketing Board, innovation remains the way forward for the UK dairy sector


In his keynote presentation at Semex 2014, Dairy Crest’s Group Procurement Director, Mike Sheldon, said that innovation was key to the future success of the British dairy sector.

Mr Sheldon was positive about the future for British dairying, citing Dairy Crest’s market-leading Cathedral City cheese as a great example of how investment in innovation and brands can secure a “virtuous circle” for farmers, processors and consumers. Cathedral City has grown annual sales by over £250 million over the last 20 years.

Mr Sheldon said, “The last 20 years have seen an enormous amount of consolidation and change within the British dairy sector. This has meant fewer farmers and processors operating in an increasingly competitive global market. The change might have been uncomfortable at times, but 20 years on the outlook is good.  Innovation is key to the success of both producers and processors.

“Dairy Crest has changed with the times. Since the end of the Milk Marketing Boards  in 1994 and the flotation of Dairy Crest on the stock market 2 years later, our focus has been on consumer-led innovation and building successful British brands, such as Cathedral City and FRijj.  We aim to add value to milk and whilst we process the same amount of milk as we did 20 years ago our sales have virtually doubled.

“We have plans in place to continue to grow added value sales, including a £45million investment to produce demineralised whey powder at our Davidstow Creamery, in North Cornwall. We want to continue to strengthen our relationship with the dairy farmers who supply us.”