Most of the producers we’ve met so far have been in the small and perfectly formed category. So as part of our focus on Scottish Food Fortnight we were very pleased to have the opportunity to catch up with Carol Graham, Marketing Manager at Scotland’s largest independent milk producer, Graham’s Dairies.
Based in Bridge of Allen, Graham’s Dairies was started in 1939 by the Great Grandfather of Carol Graham, Marketing Manager. He bought the tenancy to the farm in 1945 paying the princely sum of £4,000 by the 1950s it was supplying retail outlets across Stirlingshire. The company reached the £1million profit barrier in 2009.
Today, their home farm still supplies milk to the dairy from their 600 strong Jersey herd (300 milkers). The herd’s bloodline comes from the (Royal) Windsor herd. This milk supplemented by milk from 64 producers throughout Scotland to produce a wide range of products including organic milk, ice cream and Graham’s Gold lines.
Carol, yours is a family business, what makes it so successful?
There are huge positives to being in a family business. Everyone wants you to do well and gives great support. We’re able to make decisions really quickly and achieve what we want to do without any barriers.
We have a long list of things we want to do which we’re walking through!
Tell me about your new product, spreadable butter
We’re really excited about this product, the first spreadable butter in Scotland. My father was honoured to be invited by the French Dairy industry to visit a dairy in Cherbourg. He was given unpresidented access to manfacturing facility to see the different ways they make butter from artisan to spreadable.
We had to expand the existing butter line, investing £1.2 million in the plant. Its introduction is in part due to £175,000 grant assistance from the Scottish Government. The equipment actually came from Italy and was installed by French technicians.
The product is a blend of butter and oils.
What’s a typical day for you?
There’s no typical day really. I am responsible for all the marketing and PR for the business, but as its a family business I do have an operational role and even get involved in HR!
Do you have a favourite food?
If I can mention our own products, I’d have to say custard. Custard made with Graham’s Gold milk served with fresh peaches and double cream.
Do you like to eat out?
I eat out a lot. I particularly like Centotre in Edinburgh. Not just because they use our products, but because of their passion for what we do. Victor and Carina may a special fuss of us when my father received his honorary doctorship from Heriot Watt, I’ll always remember that. And of course I do love the Italian lessons playing in the loo!
We’re proud to be included on their special Scottish Food Fortnight menu.
What’s next? Can you share anything with us?
At the moment, we’re focussing on getting the spreadable butter into supermarkets. It’s already in Sainbury’s and Tesco in Scotland and it will be in Waitrose across the UK from October. It’s also in many independent retailers too.
We’re looking into social media, but nothing definite there yet!
Do come along to the Scottish Food Fortnight Meet the Supplier Event on Saturday 17 September from 2 pm to 5 pm. and meet us then!