The Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo) was established in 1994 by five innovative farmers, who believed that there was simply a better way to farm. Now nearly 25 years old, OMSCo is the only national, 100% dedicated organic farmer-run and farmer-owned co-operative in the UK, with 270 members from Cornwall to Inverness.
OMSCo is the largest organic dairy co-operative in the UK, managing two-thirds of the organic milk supply. It is also the second largest dedicated organic milk pool in the world, with an annual turnover approaching £100m. "Becoming an OMSCo member was an easy decision for us,” said OMSCo board member Graham Vallis, an organic farmer who has 200 cows on his family farm on the outskirts of Exeter, Devon.
"We had a young family to provide for and therefore sought a milk partner that could provide ongoing support and certainty,” he added. "OMSCo’s dedication to the organic dairy sector was clear from the beginning and gave us the confidence we needed to develop our farm business."
"The more money that the cooperative makes, the greater the return to its farmers and this provides us with greater certainty for the future." OMSCo farmer-owner Graham Vallis
The Somerset-based cooperative’s innovative approach to spreading risk has allowed them to capitalise on the growing organic dairy market, worth $9.5bn globally.
"OMSCo has developed a variety of added value and specialist organic dairy products for international markets, including premium organic cheeses and infant formula ingredients,” said Graham. "These opportunities are fantastic for the members, as being a part of a co-operative means that we all share the benefits.
"The more money that the cooperative makes, the greater the return to its farmers and this provides us with greater certainty for the future. Being a member that’s on the board, I also see first-hand the practical input that our members have into the decision-making process, which then facilitates the implementation of these new initiatives."
Read the Co-operative Economy 2018 report, featuring all the latest facts and figures on the UK's co-operative sector and a section dedicated to farming.
Long-term relationships built with leading global manufacturing and distribution businesses has led to exports growing by 58% to approximately 20% of total revenue in 2017 - a figure which the cooperative aspires to grow in the years to come.
Graham said: "OMSCo’s achievements have been underpinned by shared values that champion British organic dairying. I look forward to us continuing to work together as a co-operative finding new and innovative ways to secure our future success.”"