Buying local produce isn’t a bind when you can have it delivered to your doorstep for no extra cost — which is precisely what Isle of Man Creamery does for you.

Choosing Manx milk not only supports jobs, agriculture and the environment, it means you don’t have to go to the shop in your slippers to ensure you have all you need at breakfast time. Just open your door and find what’s there waiting for you.  (Slippers optional)

There is of course a serious message behind supporting Manx produce. When you see the key role played by Isle of Man Creamery, it’s a real eye-opener as to the difference such choices can make.

It means supporting 30 farming families, as well as the 85 staff who work at the Creamery and about 400 jobs in the industry as a whole.

It means supporting good farming practices, with all herds enjoying a free-range lifestyle and all farms Red Tractor-certified to supply milk.

It means securing a vital link in the local food chain that can keep running in a crisis and that does not rely on gov support.

Shirley Callow, marketing manager at the Creamery explained the set-up: ‘Isle of Man Creamery is a  farmers’ co-operative, so all  dairy farms now have a central processing unit that guarantees to buy all of their milk.

‘As long as it is to our standards, and we test every batch that comes in, we will buy every drop of their milk, process it and sell it for them.

‘It means less investment is required on the part of the individual farmers and they effectively own the business.’

People are surprised when they discover there is no gov involvement in the Creamery. For the 30 farmers involved, it means security.

During the lockdowns, the Creamery gained about 3,000 customers for free doorstep deliveries,

‘Many people don’t realise our deliveries are free or that it is so easy to do,’ said Shirley. ‘It is no more expensive than going to the shop and it is easier.’

It’s not just milk either. Cheese, juice, potatoes, bread, eggs and more can be delivered to your door. Nearly all of it is Manx.

Longer life milk in the supermarkets may be cheaper, when it is on offer, but the advantage of choosing local is that you know the provenance of what you are buying and you have a fresher product.

‘The whole island food culture is really important. We want a strong food industry in the Isle of Man, not just for us. We want that strong network. When people buy local it really supports that.’

Covid restrictions had put a brake on some ways of spreading the message, such as school visits and talks to local groups, but the feedback has always been positive.

It helps when you have a good product to sell and the Creamery is very proud of its milk, which comes entirely from grass-fed animals.

‘In the UK, a lot of cows are barn-kept,’ said Shirley. ‘Over here, all the farms are grass-fed, the cows are out all the time.

‘At the moment we average 223 days out to pasture for the cows — outside all day, coming in to be milked. They have a 70% grass-based diet, which is really high.

‘It is their natural choice of food, so they digest it more easily. It means healthier guts. There is also more Omega-3 in grass-fed milk and less Omega-6, making it more heart-healthy.

‘And as far as we are concerned, it tastes better!’

The Creamery’s Manx cheese has been a success story in its own right, exported to different parts of the world, used on airlines, and even featured in special promotions. The Guns N’ Roses tribute Sweet Cheddar of Mine, sold by a well known chain in 2019, using Manx cheese, definitely hit the right note with rockers of a certain vintage.

‘They branded our cheese as that, which was interesting!’ laughed Shirley.

‘We do get lots of people getting in touch from around the world asking where they can buy our cheese.’

And the Creamery is doing its bit for the environment. Carbon neutral cartons are used for all milk packaging. The cartons are fully recyclable and there are kerbside collections from the Creamery and RecycleCollect. The use of flat-pack cartons saves on travel to the equivalent of 30 HGVs coming to the island every year.

All milk, which is fully traceable, is tested for contaminants and bacteria. It is antibiotic free.

Farmers use effective grassland management techniques to ensure carbon sequestration through good grazing practices and grass-fed herds. Feed and bedding is grown on-farm wherever possible, to reduce the shipment of goods.

According to gov calculations, every £1 spent on local food and drink is worth £1.83 to the Manx economy.

Supporting local produce really does make a difference.
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