Marks & Spencer has announced it will be the first UK retailer to introduce 'healthier' milk, which offers customers naturally lower fat milk and will see up to 84 tonnes of saturated fat from its customers' diets per year. It will also improving the health and welfare of its dairy cows.
The milk will be on sale in M&S stores from October and is the result of an extensive trial involving a team of experts at Reading University, select M&S farmers and consumer research.
The retailer started the trial and research project in October 2010 to investigate whether it was possible to feed dairy cows a natural diet that would deliver milk with less saturated fat, improved cow health and welfare, be better for the environment, and with the same taste and high quality.
The results concluded that:
- Saturated fat in the milk had been reduced by a minimum of 6%.
- Cow health and welfare had improved – cow fertility increased along with the cows appearance – they had glossier coats and displayed calmer behaviour.
- Palm oil will be removed from the cow's diets, saving more than 1,000 tonnes a year.
- No effect on the quality or the taste of the milk. In fact, the consumer research found that the milk tasted creamier.
Sue Bell, M&S technical executive, said: "We're delighted with the results of the trial. Our new milk is a win-win recipe. It has less saturated fat but actually tastes better, there's less impact on the environment due to the reduction in palm oil, our farmers cows are healthier and our farmers will benefit from a guaranteed price for their milk."
To support its dairy farmers converting to the new feed, M&S will be introducing a new payment contract for farmers who achieve the reduced saturated fat level in their milk. The contract will recognise any additional costs in achieving the saturated fat reduction which will be supported by M&S.
Mark Robins, M&S milk supplier, said: "This provides a real opportunity to grow the volume of milk sold in M&S stores for the benefit of all M&S milk farmers. It also builds on the existing strength of the M&S Milk Pledge Plus model, which offers a market leading partnership for the dairy farmers involved."
The trial was funded by the M&S Plan A innovation fund – Plan A is the retailer's eco and ethical plan to become the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015.
Last year, M&S launched 'Milk Pledge Plus', a milk payment scheme for its dairy farmers that not only takes into account the costs of production, but also rewards them for both their animal health and welfare standards and their ongoing farm production standards, with the price paid to its farmers also linked to its retail price for milk.
The scheme guarantees the retailers farmers a fixed price for milk, removing the uncertainty of the milk industry's price fluctuations giving them greater security.
Source: Marks & Spencer
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