Taste of success for County Durham dairy

A North East dairy has the best butter in the UK, according to a consumer organisation.

Acorn Dairy, a family run business based at Archdeacon Newton, near Darlington, create their own range of products from their low-carbon, organic farm.

Run by directors Caroline Bell and her brother Graham Tweddle, the family has been farming since 1928 and converted to organic status in 1998.

Now, in an exciting announcement, their own brand butter has been named the ‘Best Dairy Butter’ option in the UK by Ethical Consumer Magazine, a publication which ranks consumer products based on factors including environmental impact, animals, politics, product sustainability and company ethos.

Caroline said: “The range of butter brands reviewed was significant in scale and included many smaller producers such as ourselves, as well as international brands and supermarket own-branded dairy butters and plant-based spreads. 

“I‘ve subscribed to Ethical Consumer Magazine for many years and was delighted when I saw they had reviewed butters and that Acorn Dairy was the top dairy brand. For our butter to receive a higher ethical ranking than so many processed plant spreads makes us very proud, especially as our marketing budget is miniscule compared to some of the other big boys!”

The dairy was ranked 4th out of a total of 50 butters, plant spreads and margarines, a result Caroline attributes to the firm’s commitment to organic standards on its farms in Yorkshire and Durham and getting food from field to fridge in the best way possible for the environment, land and animals. 

Caroline added: “It is no surprise that if we feed the best, organic forage with clover and herbs to our Dairy Shorthorns, the cream in their milk will churn to fantastic butter.  The taste difference is there in the milk and cream too.

“In 2020 ECM also listed us as their best dairy brand for fresh milk, so for our butter to be listed as well in its own right is fabulous.”

Always looking for new ways to reduce the business’ footprint and improve their sustainable credentials, Caroline and Graham have also recently stopped using greaseproof paper and sellotape for butter wrapping in favour of a 100 per cent home compostable packaging.

Graham said: “The hand-wrapped packages certainly looked artisan, but with thousands of rolls being packed each week, it was becoming a mission for our team and we knew we could improve on the old packaging.

“Working in conjunction with a company in Harrogate, we’ve developed a machine to pack the butter neatly in a home compostable wrap. The wrap will simply go in with customers vegetable or garden waste and compost down with access to moisture and air, ultimately becoming soil after passing through a friendly worm!” 

The ranking is the latest highlight for the dairy, which last year won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for sustainable development.

Caroline added: “For our very small company to be picked out, just nine months after our Queen’s Award is a real boost as it has been, and remains, a challenging time to be a food producer.  At a time when everyone is hoping to reduce their individual footprint, it is wonderful to be recommended by ethical and sustainable bodies.”

For more information about Acorn Dairy visit www.acorndairy.co.uk