Keeley Southworth has been speaking to Liz Sutton, the co-founder of Delamere Dairy, about the 35 years of the dairy.

The Beginning

After agricultural college Roger, my husband and co-founder of Delamere Dairy, was thinking about business opportunities.

We wanted our own farming business, yet we had no farm, no money and no milk quota. His dream was to start a dairy goat herd and he waited until we were married then sprung it on me!

Three goats were the first thing that we bought, then quickly we added more to build the herd and we were lucky enough to rent farm buildings in the beautiful Delamere Forest.

It was really hard at first, we tapped into a small demand in the mid 1980s and 35 years on there is a now very recognised goat dairy market.

It was all a bit Heath Robinson when we first started processing the milk ourselves. Outsiders acted as guarantors as were considered a novel enterprise at the time and lots of people took interest in seeing whether we would succeed or fail.

In 1992 we moved our goats and processing to Yew Tree Farm, where our head office still operates from today.

Then in 2002 we were growing so rapidly that decided to outsource the processing to a third party.

This meant that we could tap into the production resources of other companies in the knowledge that we were using state of the art processing techniques and taking advantage of new developments in production.

We continued farming until 2009, then took the decision to move our remaining goats to family farmers who still supply us with milk today.

Family Values

We started as a family business and we still have very strong family values today.

We are very lucky that Ed Salt and our board of directors, who run the business, continue to embrace this way of operating.

We’ve always recognised that people who work for the business are our most important assets.

We respect the fact that everyone that works at Delamere Dairy has their own family and with that comes family ups and downs.

Family comes first and we’ve tried to support our staff through their up and downs and shared many life experiences together. We meet socially as often as we can and all our families are involved.

Knutsford Guardian:

You spend a great deal of your life working, so it’s important to create an atmosphere that is not only productive but that is fun as well. I hope that is something that people feel.

It’s not something that we have engineered, it’s part of the culture. We have created somewhere that people love to work and we’re very lucky.

We don’t have a high turnover of staff and hopefully that is one of the reasons.

Changes over last 35 years

Goat farming has changed dramatically in 35 years, when we started it was a cottage industry, people hand milked a few goats and sold the milk at the garden gate.

There were people who sought goats’ milk out for newborn animals and puppies having recognised the qualities of goats’ milk.

It has come on in leaps in bounds in a very short space of time. Goats’ milk production now uses state of the art technology, we have well invested herds and incredibly forward-thinking farmers.

Our farmers tend to be the sort of people who don’t mind thinking out of the box, they don’t follow the crowd, particularly in the early days when we were thought of as being slightly nuts because we were doing something so unconventional.

If you look at all our successful farmers over the years, they had faith in doing something different and pushing out the boundaries.

Goat farming

In the current times sadly, farming of dairy cows is sadly is in crisis yet again as the price of milk is where it was 20 years ago.

Technology and techniques have moved forward but every few years it seems to go backwards as the market changes.

It’s very difficult to adjust agricultural output suddenly because the lead times are so long.

One good thing that may come out of the current situation is the appreciation of the need for food production in this country. Maybe some good will come out of it.

With dairy goat farming, because it’s such a small sector, we are able to manage supply much more closely and avoid the impact of such wild fluctuations in price and demand.

While it is being traded around the world it isn’t subject to the same price swings as cows’ milk and dairy, meaning that we can maintain a much more consistent price for our producers.

Knutsford Guardian:

The most recent challenge to our business has been adapting to changes in consumer demand, plant-based drink demand and other functional dairy foods like lactose-free milk.

A very similar market to that of goats’ milk, we’ve had to recognise that people are consuming new products and had to adapt our business accordingly.

So that has really driven us away from being a goat business to being a much broader speciality dairy and non-dairy drinks business.

We’ve been able to do that because we are very fleet of foot and adaptable we have dramatically altered the look of our business by reflecting the changes in consumer demand.


Delamere Dairy embodies family values as a trusted and family friendly brand.

We are considered a trusted source for health and nutrition matters, trusted by our customers and respected in the dairy trade they see Delamere as a brand that has always punched above its weight – we’re up there and out there, even though we a relatively small business.

In the dairy world we’re a ‘tiddler’ but we’re holding our own with some of the huge businesses in the sector and we’ve never been afraid to do that.

I have gradually withdrawn from the day-to-day operations over the last three years.

The balance of ownership and management has moved in favour of Ed and his talented team and although I chair the board meetings, I’m fortunate that the business is in the hands of a younger and more dynamic dynasty!

I have just completed a two-year position as chair of The Provision Trade Federation which is the Trade Association representing companies who trade or manufacture provisions such as dairy products, cheese, butter, milk powders, yogurt and other short life dairy desserts; bacon, ham and seafood.

After a very intensive two years of lobbying for food producers, some of whom are still struggling at the moment, as challenges such a COVID-19 arise, I remain on the board of PTF.

It’s been useful too because Delamere has had a presence at a high level in the dairy sector and in the political sphere which has kept us very visible and has been extremely interesting.

Our Legacy

Roger and I both grew up with farming in our blood and I still have that as an interest.

Roger’s legacy is Delamere’s passionate concern for its farmers and their welfare and financial success, and we’ve always had a very close relationship with our farmers. Delamere is determined for the goat industry to continue to succeed.

We’ve fought very hard over the years for the goat farming industry to be understood by various stakeholders and to be recognised officially.

Only ten years ago we realised the Chief Veterinary Officer didn’t know there was a commercial goat industry and we have lobbied for stronger representation.

Knutsford Guardian:

Now others have picked up that baton and there is representation and Government recognition for the farmers and the industry.

We’re in a good place now and I still have some involvement in continuing this work. I also have a small farm myself which I take a great interest in as a hobby.

I would love to have a goat again, goats are a great animal to farm and I’d do it again any day, although family commitments make it impractical at the moment.

A sense of pride

I’m most proud of Delamere Dairy making a difference for the people who work with them – the staff, the suppliers, the customers and I’m very proud of the fact that we are recognised in the industry – it continues to be a great source of pride.

It’s also the little things like when you go abroad and you see the Delamere brand on the shelf, I’m still amazed and I glow with pride.

Once of the great things is all of the people that we’ve met through the business along the way and the places that it’s taken us to – all around the world. It has been amazing.

My favourite product is our fresh goats’ milk. It’s nectar and I believe it’s the most amazing dairy milk there is. Cows’ milk is good for you, but goats’ milk is even better.

The Future

We have no plans to do anything other than keep pushing forward. We are very focused on NPD and innovation which has always been the case.

I went to Crufts this year and was thrilled at how well known the TopLife brand, our range of pet milk, is known and respected in the dog world.

Innovation is something we are very good at, as I said TopLife was very novel at the time when we launched it and we have to adapt to consumer tastes which seem to change with increasing regularity.

We did this with the launch of our Planted dairy-free range in the past two years.

That is one of the strengths of the Delamere brand - we’ve never been afraid to be bold.

We are very focused on sustainability – we’ve got our ear to the ground which is key in any business moving forward.

We’re looking at our sourcing, packaging and the transporting of our goods on an on-going basis.

We are continuing to support ground-breaking initiatives. Sometimes businesses struggle to get new ideas off the ground.

So in addition to supporting our own initiatives we’re supporting others along the way and continuing to build up our Delamere family, we will definitely see more of that in the future.

Who knows where we will be in the future? While people will still consume dairy, there will be other trends that we haven’t even thought of yet.

On the whole we are very optimistic, we’ve always operated thinking that there are opportunities out there, despite hard times, you just need to be looking for them and be bold.

It’s too easy to find reasons for not doing something. You just have to go for it – that’s the Delamere mantra and long may it continue.