The story of Dairy Crest, so far...
Milk Marketing Board
The British Government responds to a severe economic depression by creating a “producer-run product marketing board” to buy and market milk from hard-pressed dairy farmers.
“The Cheese Board”
A moment of crisis soon after its inception - when a large buyer cancelled his contract - leads to the MMB manufacturing the milk into cheese. Creamery development was an inevitable consequence of pressure to place raw milk rather than a deliberate policy.
“Every Gallon Counts”
"Nothing can make the prospect of our food situation next winter anything but graver than it was this winter. The men in the fighting line and in the factories and the women and children need every drop of milk you can produce. It may mean life or death. Every gallon counts."
Robert Hudson, Minister of Agriculture 1942
The “Big Four”
The ‘Big 4’ milk producers of the time were United Dairies; Cow & Gate; Express and the Co-operative Society. Between them they processed 52% of all liquid milk; and made cheese or butter from the rest
A brand is born
The Milk Marketing Board finds itself with 70-80 million gallons of milk left over every year. It uses this to manufacture butter and cheese for the retail and catering markets and brands the products ‘Dairy Crest’.
Country Life butter
The English Butter Marketing Company Ltd, a dairy trade consortium founded to promote the sale of English butter, launches Country Life.
MMB buys Davidstow
The Milk Marketing Board enlarges its cheese making facilities by purchasing creameries at Davidstow in Cornwall and Chard in Somerset, from Unigate. It then goes on to purchase 14 further creameries and modernises its factory at Crudgington.
Dairy Crest – the brand
The Milk Marketing Board's milk processing operation is made into a separate division called Dairy Crest. The division is the buyer of last resort for all surplus raw milk, ensuring that all milk producers in this country will have a buyer for their milk.
Country Life on TV
Country Life “Buttermen” commercials appear on television for the first time in 1981. This was a record television spend of £1.25m by the MMB who had never ventured this far into broadcast advertising. The ad was responsible for growing a 15% share of the market by the brand.
During the 50s and 60s the creamery at Crudgington in Shropshire was refitted to manufacture butter and milk powder. This enabled the factory to produce Clover, a spread churned with buttermilk to taste like butter.
‘Sunrise’: a new dawn
"The new identity with its fresh image in green and yellow on a white background, is intended to underline all the beneficial and natural attributes of dairy foods."
Dairy Crest Foods Annual Review 1985
Dairy Crest Ltd
"The incorporation of Dairy Crest Limited represents a significant change in circumstances for the company…"
Dairy Crest promotional brochure 1987
A dairy at Severnside
Dairy Crest opens a new site at Severnside near Bristol. Severnside is now a key site; a state of the art dairy processing 500 million litres of milk a year as well as manufacturing cream and FRijj flavoured milk.
Dairy Crest enters into a joint venture arrangement with French fresh dairy products manufacturer, Yoplait SA to be known as Yoplait Dairy Crest. Products include the hugely popular Petit Filous range.
FRijj is born
The UK’s favourite fresh flavoured milk drink is created and manufactured at Severnside.
Cathedral City joins DC
The acquisition of the remaining shares in Mendip Foods Limited gives Dairy Crest outright ownership of the Cheddar which is to become Britain’s favourite cheese brand – Cathedral City.
Dairy Crest goes public
“Dairy Crest has been on a long march – and we cover the route in some detail, because it is important to stress just how much the business has changed in the 1990s. Dairy Crest is now a commercially-focused business which can be counted in the same group as Northern Foods and Unigate – the third force in UK dairy.” UK Equity Research Document ABN AMRO Hoare Govett 1996
Dairy Crest builds a state of the art distribution centre at Nuneaton in Warwickshire
Acquisition of Unigate
Dairy Crest buys Unigate's dairy and cheese activities.
St Ivel spreads business
The acquisition of the St Ivel Spreads business brings the leading brands, Utterly Butterly, St Ivel Gold and Vitalite to Dairy Crest's brand portfolio.
DC buys Express dairies
The acquisition of the Express Dairies business makes Dairy Crest the UK's market leading doorstep business in England and Wales.
milk&more goes online
2007 was an eventful year. Not only did we acquire St Hubert, the leading spreads business in France and Italy, but we also took doorstep milk deliveries on-line with the introduction of milk&more.
Disposal of St Hubert
Dairy Crest sold St Hubert to Montagu Private Equity SAS for €430 million (£344 million).