How dairy farmers stay chilled


Dairy is the UK’s biggest farming sector. According to the Governmental Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, total raw milk production here is around 13.3 billion litres annually.

Leading chiller hire companies play a key role in ensuring supply meets consumer demand.

But the dairy industry and supermarkets are often in dispute

With liquid milk and milk processed products always being such popular commodities, the dairy industry is never far from the headlines. Spats (usually over pricing) between dairy farmers, milk processing companies and supermarkets are frequently in the news.

As just one example: in recent years the BBC and The Independent (online) has given wide coverage to dairy farmers’ planned demonstrations against some of this country’s biggest and best-known supermarket chains. The farmers were protesting at price cuts they said would bankrupt them and change the countryside. Their blockades forced supermarkets into a humiliating climb-down – plans to pay farmers 25p per litre of milk (even though it costs 29p per litre to produce) were scrapped.

The UK dairy industry – some quick stats
  • The UK is the third largest milk producer in Europe after Germany and France, and the ninth largest producer in the world
  • Around 5 billion litres of liquid milk are sold in the UK each year (around half of the milk processed here is used for liquid milk)
  • We consume an average of 1.6 litres each a week
  • The industry is worth over £3.3 billion, at market prices
  • There is little overseas trade in liquid milk, but considerable trade in processed products

(Sources: Dairy UK – Industry Statistics and Data, and This is Dairy

With demand for liquid milk and milk-containing products by consumers and food and drink manufacturers always being high, milk processing companies can look forward to successfully trading long term, but only if they manage production very well. Critical to achieving this is temperature control.

How milk is processed – in brief

Milk arrives at a milk processing plant (from a dairy farm) at 4ºC degrees and is Pasteurised to 72ºC for a minimum of 25 seconds before being cooled quickly again to ensure harmful bacteria (e.g. M. paratuberculosis) does not start to grow.

This cooling process is undertaken using vast process chillers: chilled water is pumped through a plate cooler for fast cooling of warm milk (to below 6ºC). The rapid cooling inhibits bacteria growth, ensuring better quality milk.

Process chillers also help milk refrigeration systems run more efficiently, meaning energy costs are significantly lowered. But, like with all equipment and machinery used in food and beverage processing, breakdowns of fixed chiller systems at milk processing plants can suddenly occur that can slow or stop production until essential repairs are carried out and product processing can resume.

For dairy processors, the solution to avoiding processing interruption and supply chain issues is to temporarily hire chillers specifically for milk processing purposes from a reputable chiller hire company.

Chiller rental – the cost-effective option

A chiller rental specialist can have chillers (as well as any required power supplies and ancillary equipment) delivered, correctly positioned and made operational at a dairy processing plant within hours, ensuring no delays occur and supply chain relationships are not damaged.

Clients could even formulate a contingency plan with the chiller leasing specialist – the specialist will know exactly what is required in the event of an urgent phone call from them.

Rigorous checks

The days of dairy processors having to rely on older plant and equipment (that they have perhaps kept in storage ”for emergencies”) are long gone. Like the milk float, milk production has evolved; processing is highly automated and efficient. Rigorous checks are in place to ensure milk arrives, is processed and leaves at the correct temperature.

By hiring chillers rather than buying, dairy processors will know that they have the best equipment available: serviced, up-to-date technology on site whenever they need it – to guarantee uninterrupted production during fixed chiller system breakdowns and / or during maintenance and planned servicing periods. All-year-round, dairy processors can ensure best taste, colour, texture and health content of the milk that they supply to their clients – helping to keep the dairy industry in the headlines, for the right reasons!