By Debbie James

A Pembrokeshire dairy farmer is the first in the county to sell his milk direct to consumers through a farmyard vending service.

Nick Roch invested in the new technology to offer people milk straight from the farm gate at Kilanow Farm, Stepaside.

Milk vending is already commonplace in other parts of the UK but what sets Mr Roch’s business apart if that he won’t be selling unpasteurised raw milk but milk which has been batch pasteurised, a process which is said to maintain the taste of milk in its raw state.

In contrast to the standard pasteurisation process, milk is heated to a significantly reduced temperature over a longer period, long enough to kill off pathogens while preserving its flavour.

Mr Roch milks a herd of 140 British Friesians in a robot system at Kilanow Farm.

He has set up the diversification business to provide additional income to safeguard the business when the direct farm subsidy is phased out in 2021. The farm’s roadside location makes it an ideal site for direct sales.

Mr Roch admits it has been a long and challenging process to get to this point, not least the measures needed to satisfy environmental health controls; he is now just two weeks away from opening.

A litre of ‘Simply Milk’ milk provided in a reusable glass bottle will cost £1.

“We put a sign up several months ago to advise people that we would be offering a milk vending service, if I have as many customers as the number of people who have stopped for ask about the service, I will be very happy!’’ Mr Roch laughs.

He has gone one step further than milk vending, commissioning a unit which will sanitise the bottles before purchase. He is now keen to share this technology with other farmers, to grow the market for directly sourced produce.

“We have the facility to supply local farmers with external units, easily situated on any farm type, which can house sanitisation facilities or ‘clean rooms’ which will suit the dairy industry and meat suppliers.

“Farmers can operate in a manner which reassures both the environmental health departments and end consumers of their produce.”