Cornwall LivingIssue #72

Rolling with the changes

Situated just outside St Ives with panoramic views of west Cornwall, Trink Dairy is leading the charge in response to modern attitudes towards healthy eating.

More of us are now looking for food that’s both locally and sustainably sourced, and here in Cornwall, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by a number of high-quality food and drink producers. Attitudes to healthy eating are also improving, meaning many are now seeking out natural, unprocessed foods, also realising that low-fat products aren’t necessarily healthier. One Cornish business that is responding to these shifts in attitude is Trink Dairy.

“Here at Trink Dairy, our milk is simply pasteurised and then bottled, and it’s often on sale within just a few hours!”

Grazing their herd of 350 Fresian and Jersey crossbreeds across 270 acres of pasture, with views towards St Ives bay and St Michael’s Mount, owners Chris and Rachel Knowles say that this is the secret to their unique product.

While it is pasteurised, to ensure it’s safe for anybody to drink, Trink Dairy milk is not homogenised or standardised. When homogenised, Chris tells us: “It’s put through a mechanical process to break up the fat globules and distribute them more evenly through the milk. Here at Trink Dairy, our milk is simply pasteurised and then bottled, and it’s often on sale within just a few hours!”

The cows at Trink Dairy are outside for most of the year and are almost entirely grass fed. The couple have developed a system of moving them around the farm, allowing them to feast on the grass when it’s at its most nutritious. Chris even measures the grass, plotting its growth on a computer programme, ensuring the cows are always grazing in the field that will yield the most energy and protein. This translates to the cows always producing their best milk. It’s also a much more environmentally friendly approach, with very little feed being transported onto the farm.

The Knowles family have been members of Cornish Mutual for as long as they can remember. When Rachel began researching how she could extend the business to invite the public into the dairy and sell directly to customers, she decided to seek advice from the south west insurer.

Cornish Mutual Field Force Inspector, Jackie Coutts, has advised Trink Dairy for 15 years, working closely with them to ensure their insurance covered them for the new venture. She tells us: “It’s great to see how Trink Dairy has adapted to the changing environment. Rachel and Chris are completely committed to the dairy and making the best milk they possibly can. People want to buy fresh, natural produce, and Trink Dairy is filling this niche in the local market.”

The venture began as Rachel started selling milk from the house, but she soon found she couldn’t keep up with the growing demand. While Chris is responsible for managing the farm on which he grew up, Rachel took the reins when it came to finding new ways in which to sell directly to the public.

Perhaps the most surprising way people can now buy the milk is a vending machine inside the dairy. Also stocked with eggs and other local produce, the machine is open 24 hours a day, so anybody can pick up a couple of litres of fresh, local milk, whenever they find themselves in need! Rachel is also working with another local family business, the St Ives Food Company, to distribute the milk to preschools, cafés and restaurants.

It seems then that there’s an appetite for Trink’s fresh and unhomogenised whole milk. Having just dashed to local café and delicatessen Scarlet Wines for an urgent delivery to serve the breakfast crowd, Rachel tells us she’s proud to have Origin Coffee among her customers. “Apparently our milk makes the best cappuccinos and lattes. It tastes great but, unlike other milk, it keeps the latte art pristine and glossy, meaning baristas love it!

“We built the new dairy parlour ten years ago when we had no idea we would one day be selling directly to customers. With the fluctuation in milk prices, people are asking where they can buy local milk, so it makes sense for us to do this, and it’s really taking off. We’re so proud of our product: it’s all about lower volume, higher quality milk from grass fed cows.”

Chris finishes, saying: “The last generation got used to drinking homogenised semi-skimmed milk, which is basically the leftovers from cream or butter. We really want to offer people milk that’s as close to the natural product as possible, and older people say our milk tastes like it used to. Younger people are often surprised to hear that it’s 95% fat free too, which is only making it more popular.”

"Here at Trink Dairy, our milk is simply pasteurised and then bottled, and it’s often on sale within just a few hours!”