The Interview – Loseley Yoghourt

brian-beattie2.jpgLoseley Yoghourt, a UK consumer favourite since the 1960s, is enjoying fresh success in 2008. The name Loseley has been synonymous with high quality and luxury since 1562, when Sir William More built the lavishly beautiful Loseley House near Guildford, in the Surrey countryside. His descendants started farming Jersey cattle in Loseley Park, leading to the creation of the Loseley taste, which was hugely popular from its first appearance in 1968. In February 2004, farmers’ cooperative Dale Farm took over the brand and Loseley Yoghourt has since taken on a new lease of life with a total relaunch, major investment and substantial new product development, leading to a string of major awards, including the Grocer Branded Excellence Awards 2008. The latest development is the recent launch of Loseley Summer Meadow Softer Butter. Brian Beattie, Dale Farm’s Head of Brand Marketing, spoke to The Grocery Trader.

The Grocery Trader – Brian, let’s start by talking about the awards Loseley Yoghourt has won since you’ve bought the business. What trophies has it picked up under your management? In 2005 Loseley Rich and Creamy Plain Yoghourt won the Gold in the prestigious Great Taste Awards, and in 2006 we won a Gold Award at The Nantwich International Cheese Show for our Rich and Creamy Yoghourt. Last year, 2007, Loseley came top again at the Nantwich International Cheese Show, this time with Luxury Layered yoghourt – Tangy Lemon and Lemon Curd.

GT – You’ve just won another prize, in the Grocer Branded Excellence Awards. Can you tell us about that? Yes, the Loseley brand continues to go from strength to strength, winning yet another trophy, on this occasion at the prestigious Grocer Branded Excellence Awards 2008 in the dairy yoghourt and pot dessert category, for our Loseley Rich & Creamy Raspberries & Jersey Cream yoghourt.

GT – What do all these awards mean for the Loseley Yoghourt business? These awards are excellent news for all of us. They are fantastic recognition from our peers for the work we’ve been doing developing Loseley in this way, and a testament to the high quality of the product.

GT – What new products have you developed since you took on the brand? We relaunched our current yoghourt range at the end of 2004; in 2007 we added the luxury layered yoghourts and cottage cheese, and we’ve recently launched Loseley Summer Meadow Softer Butter, a naturally spreadable butter.

GT – What current Loseley dairy products are there?Our portfolio includes award winning Rich & Creamy Yoghourt: Luxury Layered Yoghourts: Cottage Cheese: Low Fat Set Bio Live yoghourt: and Loseley Softer Butter.

GT – Can you talk us through each of them? The award winning Loseley Rich and Creamy Yoghourts are four flavours that capture summer in a jar: Channel Island milk, thick Jersey Cream and luscious fruit pieces are carefully blended to create an award-winning, mouth-watering masterpiece. The current Rich and Creamy varieties are Raspberries & Jersey Cream, Strawberries & Jersey Cream, Caramelised Pear & Creamy Fudge, Peaches & Cream and Blackberry & Bramley Apple, all beautifully presented in elegant, recyclable glass jars. The Loseley Luxury Layered Yoghourts are made from rich Channel Island milk. These sumptuous Award Yoghourts are Madagascan Vanilla & Champagne Rhubarb, Maple Toffee & English Fudge, and Tangy Lemon & Lemon Curd. Made with the same Loseley attention to quality, the Loseley Low Fat Set Bio Live yoghourt range includes Natural, Vanilla, Strawberry and Lemon. The current Loseley Cottage Cheese products are English Farmhouse Cheddar and Onion, Sundried Tomato, Olives and Basil, William Pear and Natural varieties. Our latest Loseley product, Loseley Softer Butter is unique in the UK market. Unlike other spreadable butters, Loseley Summer Meadow Softer Butter is 100% pure natural butter from specially hand-selected summer fed dairy herds, whose cows produce milk that make a naturally softer butter.

GT – When was Loseley Summer Meadow Softer Butter launched? What’s the story behind it?We launched it in Morrisons just before Christmas. The early indications are very positive. There’s a consumer movement towards natural, healthy and functional products, yet at the same time consumers are unprepared to compromise on taste.Loseley as a premium brand is all about great tasting products created using natural ingredients. As a result, we’re ideally positioned to take advantage of people’s desire for dairy products that taste great, so Loseley Summer Meadow Softer Butter is a natural development.

GT – What meal occasions are these products eaten at?Loseley dessert style yoghourts are more indulgent than standard yoghourts, as they are made with rich and creamy channel island milk and are eaten either as desserts or as a treat whenever people feel like one. The cottage cheeses are eaten as a luxurious accompaniment as part of meal occasions.

GT – What is the stocking of the Loseley dairy products like in the multiples? Which products are the biggest sellers? The Loseley products we’ve talked about are all stocked to varying extents in the major multiples. The Rich and Creamy Yoghourts and the Cottage Cheeses are the biggest sellers: Strawberries & Jersey Cream yoghourt in the glass jar is our single biggest selling Loseley line overall.

GT – Before we go further, is there any commercial connection now between Loseley Yoghourt and Loseley Ice Cream?There’s no connection. Loseley Ice Cream is marketed by Hill Station, a totally separate company.

GT – Is there still a legal connection between the More-Molyneux family, who own Loseley House, and the Loseley Yoghourt brand?We have a licence agreement with them, and consider them as friends. Tim Henniker-Parker, our Sales Manager, has known them for a number of years.

GT – Does any milk from the Loseley Park herd find its way into Loseley Yoghourt? No, not any longer – the Loseley brand has moved far beyond the level at which a single herd could supply it all.

GT – As a marketer, how would you sum up the Loseley dairy brand proposition? Loseley’s award-winning range of dairy products is super premium and quintessentially British. Products in the range are made using only the best ingredients such as the finest Channel Island milk, Jersey Cream, summer cream, real fruit and other natural ingredients. Loseley is a well accepted, premium quality brand, which continues to evolve and offer consumers the ultimate taste experience.

GT – As Head of Brand Marketing for Dale Farm, what does your role involve? I’m responsible for marketing the group’s brands overall, including category, customer and brand marketing.

GT – Do you get to try out all the new products? I get to try them all during their development. As a consumer, you could say I’ve had a certain amount of training in a sensory environment; in a professional capacity, I’ve worked in the dairy industry for six or seven years.

GT – What do you enjoy most about your job?The bit I like most is meeting our consumers and getting to know them. We attend a number of consumer shows throughout the year with our brands and it is great to meet consumers who are as passionate about Loseley as we are.GT – When did you (Brian) become involved with the Loseley business?I joined in 2005, and since then I have developed the Bramley Apple Rich and Creamy Yoghourt glass jar, the Cottage Cheeses and Loseley Softer Butter.

GT – How much of your time (Brian) is spent on specifically Loseley business?A large proportion of my time is spent on Loseley, which is a major focus area for the business. The brand has been growing rapidly, and we are really encouraged with the consumer support and loyalty it is receiving.

GT – How big is the Loseley dairy brand, in value terms? How fast is it growing? Although Loseley has been in the market for over 40 years, it has really only been in the past three years that we have seen the brand develop a major presence in the chilled dairy category, enjoying significant distribution and sales growth.

GT – What’s driving the growth?The drivers are focused NPD, increased retail distribution and a targeted marketing campaign. Since we launched just over a year ago, our cottage cheese has achieved national distribution and several major listings. We’re riding the consumer trend to eat natural, good quality, great tasting foods, which our products certainly are.

GT – What consumer marketing activity do you do for Loseley?We support Loseley with a range of activities including consumer press, sampling in-store and at public events, and on-line marketing. Historically the consumer focus has been on Southern England, with samplings at Kew, Wimbledon and Proms in the Park, but now retailers stock Loseley products nationwide, we’re rolling the samplings out to stores and events across the UK.

GT – Who else is with you in the Loseley management team? Andrew Nethercott is our Group Commercial Director, backed up by our GB Commercial Manager Peter Lyons, Sales Manager Tim Henniker-Parker and Gemma Gray, who supports me as our Category Analyst.

GT – How many other countries can Loseley Yoghourt be found in? We export Loseley products to Oman, Bahrain, Dubai and Hong Kong, to ex-pat Brits and others who have discovered Loseley’s quality.

GT – Coming back to the Loseley brand, how much have you invested in improvements in the Loseley Yoghourt manufacturing operations since you took them over?We’ve invested a significant amount in manufacturing facilities and in our chilled chain, as well as in NPD and marketing. We’ve taken Loseley from a small but highly prestigious dairy business to a recognised national brand, with all that entails.

GT – What quality standards do you work to?We’re a BRC-certified company, and the Loseley products are made in ISO 9000-accredited plants. The products themselves are subject to daily taste panels, to ensure we consistently meet our high quality standards. We have a milk selection officer, and all our dairy herds are audited and their milk is tested regularly.

GT – How are your activities as a major dairy producer affected by today’s pressures to address health and obesity? Loseley dairy products only use natural ingredients, and being dairy are a rich source of important nutrients such as calcium and protein, as well as being high in taste.

GT – Can dairy be healthy for you? We definitely believe so, and so does the Government. They recommend people eat three portions of dairy a day – yoghourt, cheese and milk. As a group, Dale Farm is involved in promoting dairy’s nutrition benefits.

GT – What are your aims for the Loseley dairy brand, moving forward?We intend to maintain our current double-digit growth, and have more NPD in the pipeline. The Loseley brand is very positively perceived, and there is plenty of scope for developing it into other product areas. We’re finalising a major consumer campaign, which we’re unveiling this summer. We’re taking the great taste of Loseley to the consumer across the UK, through above and below the line activity.

GT – Finally, where do you see the Loseley brand going from here?Loseley is a quintessentially British institution: it’s a British brand using British milk processed on a British site, and will go from strength to strength. Our short-term ambition is to reach £10 million within three to five years, driven by a combination of retail listings, NPD and marketing support. As the string of awards shows, the Loseley products are winners – now it’s a matter of letting more people try them and find out for themselves.

Dale Farm
Tel: 028 9037 2200
www.loseley.com

www.dalefarm.co.uk