UK organic dairy processor Yeo Valley insists it will remain consistent to its values as a “fun, family and sustainably run” farm that preserves its organic focus as it grows, despite Soil Association figures showing that overall organic category sales fell 3.7% in 2011.
Marketing manager Ben Cull told DairyReporter.com that the firm’s success showed there was traction in the category. “People are still looking for fewer chemicals and unprocessed products that are healthier for their families and better for the environment, and that taste better too.
With this in mind, Yeo Valley (€201.7m turnover, 2011) has rolled-out its new ‘Yeoganic’ branding, he added,“to show consumers that organic is something that runs through everything we do”.
He added: “This is also our way of showing, in a fun way, that we are more than just an organic label, and that we really do go the extra country mile to look after our land, animals and people too.”
But with future growth in mind, how important did Cull believe it was for the firm to move beyond organics, and position itself as increasingly important mainstream UK dairy player?
He said: “As a growing company which is still relatively small, it’s important for us to stand out from the big, multinational players while remaining true to who we are."
Unique sales points
“We want to be recognised as an organic dairy producer and for the sustainable farming methods that we use, and communicate that we are a family-run dairy company – one of our defining unique sales points.”
Asked about perceptions of organic food in some quarters connected with ‘ladies who lunch’, and whether recent adverts (farming boy band action with ‘The Churned Forever’ and the ‘Yeo Valley Rap’) reflected Yeo Valley move towards a more mainstream market position, Cull said:
“Our consumers are predominantly families – specifically discerning mums who are looking to do (and buy) the right thing for them and their family, and who share our ethical values.”
Organic was for everyone, and Yeo Valley products were pitched at a comparable price to equivalent non-organic products, he added.
Keeping pace with competitors
During the recession (from 2008) the firm was forced to promote products quite heavily to keep pace with competitors, so to what extent was this still a focus, or were new launches and premium opportunities (for instance, the new Top Notch yogurt range) supplanting this?
”As a business we respond to the market need, producing good value products. We’ll always promote but we’ll use other activities such as rewarding our consumers with on-pack offers, competitions etc. to provide a balanced campaign,” Cull said.
And given the success of recent tongue-in-cheek television advertisements, would Yeo Valley persist in this vein? “As a small business, we need to be different and stand out from the crowd,” Cull said, but refused to reveal whether there were similar campaigns in the pipeline.