Why buy British dairy?
British farmers adhere to some of the highest welfare standards in the world.
Britain's cattle passport system means that each animal can be uniquely traced to its dam (mother) and place of birth.
British milk, cream, cheeses & butter travels less far from farm to shop so regardless of how carbon footprints are calculated it self-evidently has a lower carbon footprint. Choosing British milk, cream, cheeses & butter means supporting British farmers whose work helps keep the British countryside the way we want it to look: no cows, sheep and goats - no countryside!
How to tell if the dairy is British
If you are not buying direct from a farmer or producer you might find it helpful to look for a quality mark. These mean that all stages of the food chain have been independently checked to ensure that they meet the required standards.
OMSCO stands for the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative. The co-operative is dedicated to building a sustainable future for British organic dairy farmers and concentrates on ensuring that farmers get a fair price for their milk. The logo appears on milk and dairy products made using milk from the co-operative.
When looking to purchase dairy products, keep an eye out for logos and marks.
Visit our logos and marks page for further information on certification.
What’s the difference between pasteurised and unpasteurised milk?
Most of the milk on sale has been pasteurised - a heat treatment that kills virtually all bacteria present in the milk without affecting the nutritional value and taste of the milk.
Unpasteurised milk is a 'living food' with a real, albeit delicate, flavour. Also called 'untreated' 'raw' or 'Green Top', because of the green foil cap that was used on glass milk bottles, it is possible to buy unpasteurised milk in England and Wales but it is not legal to sell it in Scotland. It must meet 'bacteria count' standards before it can be sold and must carry warnings to advise people that it may contain harmful bacteria as some groups such as pregnant women are advised not to consume it.
It is supposed to be sold direct from the producer to the consumer and is usually produced by farmers with small herds and high welfare standards. It is becoming more readily available through farmers' markets and can be delivered as part of a box scheme.
Whether milk has been treated will influence not just milk; for example, unpasteurised Cheddar will have far more complex and slightly more variable flavours than that made from pasteurised milk.
British milk doesn't only come from cows!
In Britain we produce milk from cows, goats, sheep and even buffalo:
- Goat's milk has a musky, aromatic flavour and is more easily digested than cow's milk. It has a similar fat content to cow's milk and can be used in cooking where one would use cow's milk.
- Sheep's milk has a rich, bland, slightly sweet taste. It is much higher in total solids than either cow or goat's milk and contains up to twice as many of the minerals. It has a fat content of about 7.5%.
- Buffalo's milk is very low in carotene so it is a pure, brilliant white. It is significantly lower in cholesterol and higher in calcium than cow’s milk.
Britain produces more cheese than France!
There are over 700 named cheeses produced in the United Kingdom. The flavour of the cheeses depends not just on the process used to make them, but also on whether milking has taken place in the morning or evening and how much grass the cows, goats or sheep have been able to eat.
One of the easiest ways in which to celebrate local and regional food is to enjoy regional cheeses. Many cheeses are EU protected foods and have been awarded PDO or PGI status.
Ideas for regional cheese boards:
- Scotland - Caboc, Dunlop, Dunsyre Blue, Kelsae, Lanark Blue, Orkney Farmhouse
- North West - Beacon Fell Traditional, Lancashire Cheese, Butlers, Cheshire Cheese, Delamere Goats Cheese
- North East - Chevington, Coquetdale, Cotherstone Cheese, Elsdon Goat, Nothumberland Gouda
- Yorkshire - Ribblesdale, Coverdale, Swaledale, Wensleydale
- Midlands - Wensleydale, Capella, Childwickbury, Derby Cheese, Dovedale, Hereford Hops, Innes Goats Cheese, Lincolnshire Poacher, Staffordshire, Stilton
- East of England - Binham Blue, Norfolk White Lady, Rozbert Hard Goats, Suffolk Gold, Walsingham
- Wales - Caerphilly, Caws Cerwyn, Gorau Glas, Lammas
- South West - Bath Cheese, Baydon Hill, Beenleigh Blue, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar Cheese, Cornish Yarg, Curworthy, Dorset Blue Vinney, Double Gloucester, Exmoor Blue, Single Gloucester, Sharpham, Vulscombe, Somerset Brie, Somerset Camembert
Why not match your regional cheeses with some regional cheese biscuits? Here are a few suggestions:
- Bath Oliver - a crisp biscuit from Somerset that is pale cream in colour and has a neutral, if slightly salty, taste.
- Norfolk Knob - a round rusk with a hollow centre. It is very light and crisp and slightly sweet in flavour.
- Yorkshire Oatcakes - an elongated oval biscuit that is dusted with cream-coloured oatmeal. It has a nutty, oaty and slightly sour taste.
- Dorset Knob - a domed rusk that is a pale golden on top and has a lighter-coloured crumb. It is dry and very crisp with a slightly sweet flavour.
Visit our sourcing page for information on sourcing British dairy
All Co-op fresh milk is 100% British and sourced from a dedicated group of more than 200 dairy farmers across England, Scotland and Wales. These farmers make up The Co-operative Dairy Group. All of our own-brand liquid milk, yogurts, block butter and Cheddar cheese are 100% sourced from British milk.
Below are some useful resources if you are interested in sourcing dairy products:
Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo),