CHEAP supermarket prices have been partly blamed for the decision to end milk processing at an Isle of Wight farm.
Rew Valley Dairies announced its decision at the weekend, leaving three milk processors on the Island — Wight Milk at Coppid Hall Farm, Queen Bower Dairy and Briddlesford Farm — as well as around 15 dairy herds.
Although Rew Valley will continue to transport Isle of Wight milk, as well as produce biscuits, Jenny Harvey, who helps run the family business, said they would no longer process or bottle milk after 30 years, leading to the loss of five jobs.
It follows the sale of the farm’s bacon production business to fellow Islanders Brownrigg’s. The farm sold its dairy herd two years ago and bought in milk from other Island dairies.
Mrs Harvey said they had always been well supported by Tescos but added: "We can’t really compete with the price in the big supermarkets."
She said the decision was also partly due to a desire to scale back the business after 30 years of hard work. Despite efforts to minimise redundancies, a processor, three drivers and a sales representative are set to lose their jobs.
MP Andrew Turner, who helped co-ordinate the I love Isle of Wight Milk campaign — of which Rew Valley played an important part — said Islanders would still be able to enjoy Isle of Wight milk.
"It’s very sad supermarkets use milk as a loss leader, we all know this causes difficulties for dairy farmers.
"However the campaign was supported by many Islanders and the drive to support our dairy farmers by using local milk goes on. There is still milk being produced, processed and packaged on the Island and I would urge people to look out for it and support local producers where possible."
Louise Hart, of Calbourne Classics — which carries the I love Isle of Wight Milk branding on its ice cream packaging — said Rew Valley’s decision would mean little change for customers, who would still be able to buy Isle of Wight milk.