THE largest independent dairy in the North-East is celebrating doubling its business with a new £10m deal.

Lanchester Dairies, in County Durham, has agreed a contract to process milk for Hanover Dairies of Blaydon, North Tyneside, which is creating jobs at the company and boosting its network of local suppliers.

General manager Barry Peacock, who helped broker the deal for family-run Lanchester along with fellow directors, said: “It is great news for us, and for our staff and suppliers. It will mean we take more milk from local farms.

Loading article content

“We have already taken on about ten new staff, drivers and workers in refrigeration, loading and production, all from around the area. And the local companies who keep us on the road with such things as diesel suppliers, truck repairs and tyres will also get more business.”

Lanchester started in the early 1990s and is now owned by Billy and Julie Austin who diversified the dairy farm to incorporate a small processing plant.

It was expanded and by 2000 the decision was made to purchase a larger capacity bottlefilling production line, sell its dairy herd and milk rounds, and focus efforts on milk processing.

The latest upgrade began in 2002 with the installation of two filling lines for glass and plastic bottles. The farm buildings were converted from agricultural to industrial use, and previous cattle facilities became a modern filling hall with refrigerators and undercover parking for refrigerated vehicles.

In 2005 it began collecting raw milk direct from local farms using its own tankers.

Mr Peacock, who has been with the business for nearly 20 years, said: “We have a broad customer base covering milk men, local shops, national supermarkets, food manufacturers, cafes, pubs, restaurants and nursing homes.

“We are also the Asda hub in the North-East, supplying local products to 24 Asda stores and to 16 Tescos.

“We have 40 trucks making 600 drops a day.”

The firm processes about 20 million litres of milk a year.

He added: “Lanchester is a family business and we are very much about supporting the local economy. We are members of Taste North- East, (a not-for-profit membership company) which supports local food and drink producers and we are very committed to what they do too.”

Mr Peacock, who said he had been in negotiation with Hanover for six months, added: “It is great we are also supplying another family-run North-East company. They previously contracted from a firm in the North-West, so it also means fewer road miles.”

For details on Taste North East, which aims to inspire people to discover, and share the region’s food and drink, visit taste