Asia drives Jersey milk demand

Record quantities of Jersey milk are being shipped to China to satisfy demand from Chinese consumers worried about the safety of local produce.

Farmers say the growth is an economic lifesaver as domestic consumption is too small to support the industry.

Island-wide production is growing by 1m litres per year as the Jersey Dairy farmers' co-operative expands overseas.

The dairy has also hired 10 temporary workers to help meet demand.

Paul Houze, of Lodge Farm, owns 200 dairy cattle and is also a director of the dairy.

Million litres

He said: "We're being allowed as an island to produce an extra half a million litres last year and another half a million litres this coming year so production will have gone up by a million litres. The dairy's current intake is 13.5m litres so it's a sizeable increase.

"If we can generate profitable export sales, that goes towards keeping the price of milk locally as low as we can."

Jersey's dairy farmers are protected from imports but must adhere to quotas decided by Jersey Dairy, which last year raised wholesale prices by 3p per litre to £1.09.

UHT milk produced in Jersey is distributed to 180 Chinese stores where demand has been three times higher than expected while butter made from Jersey milk is proving popular in Japan, where it sells for £7 for 250g.

The dairy also supplies ice cream to shops, holiday camps and beach resorts all over the UK.

Bob Jones, head of marketing and export, said: "The vast majority of our output supplies the local market, that's our priority, but for farms to continue to be viable and profitable we have to produce more milk and look at markets outside the island."

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