Q&A with Ian Olphert, Farm Liaison Officer at Lacpatrick Dairies

Q&A with Ian Olphert, Farm Liaison Officer at Lacpatrick Dairies

Q. Tell us about your business?

A. From small beginnings, with just one product and three employees, the company has expanded over the last 100+ years to include a substantial retail liquid milk business and state of the art butter production facility - which is amongst the most advanced in Europe. The Coleraine site produces a wide portfolio of high quality products: our Ballyrashane branded butter is even named as an ingredient on the packaging of many local loved food and brands.

Q. As a farm liaison officer, how closely do you work with local farmers?

A. I work and deal with all our milk producers on a daily basis, keeping them up to date with the Red Tractor Quality Scheme.  Any that are not in the scheme are guided on how to join.  This is all done within a short time period and full accreditation is given in due course.  We aim to have our entire milk pool/supply 100% Red Tractor Approval as soon as possible.  Being part of the Liaison team, we offer support and guidance to all our producers and try to make their business/livelihood profitable and efficient .

Q. Why do you think Northern Irish farm products have become so highly sought after?

A. The natural advantage of our geography, grass land area, water availability, air quality and quality systems are recognised worldwide as second to none.

Q. How important is the issue of provenance / traceability to your customers?

A. Our customers are very conscious of supporting local, with ever increasing demands on the environment and keeping food miles down.  Supporting our local farmers is often a key item in our customers purchasing decision.

Q. Do you think current food trends will encourage consumers to move away from Dairy products? (veganism etc)

A While there is a trend in non-dairy product, milk and butter continue to remain a major part of may peoples diet.  That said, there is a synergy in the category and it is something that we will consider future development plans.

Q. Where do you see growth / innovation coming from in the dairy sector?

A. The Growth areas will tap into the trends for healthier, low fat, low sugar, and supplemented product e.g. with additional vitamins and proteins

Q. Can you milk a chicken?!

A. No, Chickens are not mammals and don’t have glands that produce milk, but… you can cook a chicken in Milk, braised its totally delicious!

Q. Do you take milk in your tea/coffee?

A. Absolutely! It rounds off the flavour for me, it just wouldn’t be the same without some of our delicious SPAR enjoy local milk!