Mark Robins manages the Farley Farms Estate, a few miles outside Reading in Berkshire, where the 180 strong ‘Bearsted' pedigree herd of Holstein Friesian cows is milked at Tanners Dairy in Arborfield.
He's been supplying milk to M&S for more than ten years, at the same time working closely with us as National Milk Pool chairman, representing the views of the 40 dairy farmers that supply us with fresh liquid milk.
All M&S fresh milk is supplied through our Milk Pledge agreement, which guarantees a fair price to our farmers based on costs of production. In exchange, the farmers work hard to achieve the highest possible standards of animal health, welfare and hygiene. "I'm really proud to produce high quality milk for M&S customers to enjoy," Mark explains.
But he was keen to do more and that's how the healthier milk project got going, in 2010. Working with Reading University and a number of other dairy farmers in the M&S milk pool, Mark was involved in trials that looked at the impact of changing some of the feeds that were given to his cows, lowering the saturated fat content and using only natural ingredients. Could this improve the health and wellbeing of his cows even further?
What he found is that his cows certainly looked better on a low saturated fat diet. And so ‘better for you' milk was launched across all our stores in the autumn of 2011.
Another impact of ‘better for you' milk is that palm oil has been removed from all cow diets. This will deliver significant environmental benefits - it's estimated that around 1,000 tonnes of palm will be removed from the M&S liquid milk supply chain each year.
What's more, the new milk is up to 8 per cent lower in saturated fat – something that will remove 84 tonnes of saturated fat from our customers' diets each year.
- Milk is a good source of protein, vitamin D and calcium