The Milkiosk: Littleham farm launches milk dispensing vending machine
PUBLISHED: 11:37 22 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 22 March 2019
Farmer Peter Hockridge tells BECKY DICKINSON about a new venture selling milk straight from a Devon farm
Forget soft drinks and packets of crisps - a vending machine with a difference has been met with resounding approval just outside Bideford.
As the name suggests, The Milkiosk, at High Park Farm in Littleham, dispenses cool, fresh milk straight from the cow. Well almost.
The machine isn’t actually connected to any udders; but the milk is produced and pasteurised within the space of 25 metres and is ready to go just two hours later.
The man behind the initiative is Peter Hockridge, whose family have been farming at High Park since 1936. The 29-year-old farmer and father-of-two came up with the idea after a passerby once stopped at the farm and asked if he sold milk to the public.
Peter says: ‘’I looked into a bit more, did some market research and realised it wasn’t such a ridiculous idea. Within a few hours of asking people on Facebook whether they would be interested in purchasing local milk, I had 1,500 responses, of which 98.6 per cent were positive.’’
After securing an EU Leader grant to cover 40 per cent of the cost of setting up, The Milkiosk officially opened in August 2018. Since then, customers have been arriving in droves, not just from Bideford and the surrounding areas, but from further afield too, including Barnstaple, Coombe Martin and even Plymouth.
‘’It’s more uncommon for there not to be someone here, than for someone to be here,’’ says Peter. ‘’Weekends are mental.’’
A litre of milk costs £1 and customers can also purchase re-fillable glass bottles for an additional pound, or bring their own containers.
It’s a significant mark-up on the 31.5 pence per litre Peter normally receives when selling to dairy companies. And although the Milkiosk currently only accounts for a small percentage of total sales, Peter says he has had requests to sell his milk in other locations too – something he may consider in the future.
Meanwhile, the visitors’ book inside the kiosk is full of five star reviews. Customers rave about the deliciously creamy taste, some say their children refuse to drink anything else, and some even say they are no longer intolerant to milk since switching to the Milkiosk.
At a time when the dairy industry is coming under increasing pressure, this is good news for farmers like Peter. He says: ‘’It’s adding value to what we do, not just monetary value; it’s reconnecting people with where food comes from.’’
Inevitably, Peter has received a tiny amount of negativity from the vegan community, but a tour behind the scenes reveals a herd of contented-looking, well-cared for cows. Zero food miles, zero plastic, no middleman and a great taste. What’s not to love?
Why does it taste so good?
Peter puts the deliciously creamy flavour down to the special way in which his milk is pasteurised.
“We pasteurise the milk at 63 degrees for half an hour, instead of 72 degrees for 15 seconds. I think this is much more gentle on the milk and produces a much better product,” he explains.
And unlike milk from supermarkets, the milk sold at High Park Farm is not homogenised or standardised, so the cream rises to the top for that old-fashioned ‘top of the milk’ appeal, although of course you can always shake it up if you prefer.