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 new 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 and it will mean we take more milk from local farms.
"We have already taken on about 10 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 90s 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 bottle filling 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 their own fleet of 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’re 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’re very much about supporting the local economy. We’re members of Taste North East, (a not-for-profit membership company) which supports local food and drink producers and we’re very committed to what they do too."
Mr Peacock said he had been in negotiation with Hanover for six months: "It is great that 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 information on Taste North East, which aims to inspire people to discover, source and share the region's food and drink, visit: www.tastenortheast.co.uk