Multi-award-winning, Caroline’s Dairy Ice Cream, all started with a sweet idea to add value to the family dairy farm, and a passion for giving their cows a good life by caring for them to the RSPCA’s higher welfare standards. In fact, the person behind the idea, Caroline herself, believes the secret to their delicious artisan ice cream is that their happy cows produce the creamiest milk!
What Prompted The Move From A Traditional Dairy Farm To Making Ice Cream?
Our dairy herd on the farm is very well looked after and lives the best life possible and I had often thought their milk would make wonderful ice cream. But the idea really became reality in 2008 when we were impacted by nationwide milk pricing pressures and we needed to find a way to add value to our business. We redeveloped part of an old farm building and invested in some ice cream-making equipment and Caroline’s Dairy was born.
How Is Your Higher Welfare Ice Cream Made?
We only use fresh RSPCA Assured milk straight off the farm from our own dairy herd. Our ice cream is made in the traditional way in small batches and our flavours are all natural. Although we have grown substantially in the past few years, we still make our award-winning ice cream in exactly the same way and only use milk from our own well-cared-for cows. My husband, Chris works hard to keep our cows in tip-top condition and each one of them is special to him.
What Makes Your Ice Cream Different?
We started making ice cream with the belief that we wanted to make a product that reflected the quality of the milk our beautiful higher welfare dairy herd produces. Our ice cream is different from mass-produced ice cream in both texture and taste as we only use the best ingredients. We are careful about what we put into our ice cream and this extends to the flavouring, for instance, we only use vanilla from a company that campaigns for real vanilla and encourages vanilla farmers to keep producing real vanilla and thereby helping to regenerate the fragile rainforests to the benefit of us all. Did you know that 97% of all vanillin used in the West is artificial?
Why Is High-Welfare Farming Important To Caroline’s Dairy?
The welfare of our herd is everything to us. All of us are lucky to be living here in this special corner of Sussex, especially our cows! We have water meadows that are part of the RSPB Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve and from springtime onwards, weather permitting, our cattle spend their days outside grazing by the brooks. Healthy cows are happy cows. Keeping them in the best condition and caring for them to the highest welfare standards is at the core of what we do.
What Made You Decide To Become RSPCA Assured?
We are proud to carry the label on our ice cream that shows customers that all of our 650 cows are looked after to the RSPCA’s high-welfare standards. We think it’s important that people realise our herd has the best life we can give them and that we meet over 300 important welfare standards for both our milk and ice cream.
Do You Think There Are Other Benefits To Being A Higher Welfare Farm?
Care for our cows also extends to care for the local environment and wildlife. We encourage a rich diversity of wildlife that thrive alongside our cows on the water meadows. Our farm is home to numerous species of breeding and migratory waders, we have a lot of little egrets that can be seen following the cows as they move around the fields. We also regularly see brown hares, grey partridge, barn owls and many other endangered and red-list species.
We firmly believe that our grassland farm which integrates herbal leys for winter forage, with areas of land designated specifically for wildlife, provides a sustainable, environmentally friendly way of producing our food for the future.
What Were Your First Ice Cream Flavours?
I genuinely believe that our ice cream tastes like no other and funnily enough, our very first flavour was actually ‘unflavoured’ - just the creamiest cream - we call it ‘Double Dairy’ and it remains one of our most popular flavours today. We then developed our Bourbon Vanilla, Strawberries and Cream and Belgian Chocolate.
Which Products First Won A Great Taste Award?
We have consistently gained Great Taste Awards each year since 2014, these awards are run by The Guild of Fine Foods with a panel of judges including chefs, cooks, buyers and food critics who blind taste our ice cream. We are proud to be able to promote ourselves as a Great Taste Producer with 22 awards for our flavours including; bourbon vanilla, salted caramel, coffee espresso, stem ginger & honeycomb, coconut, and rum & raisin - tempted yet?!
Is Your Ice Cream Suitable For Vegetarians?
Our retail ice cream is sold in 500ml and 120ml pots all of which are suitable for vegetarians and are gluten-free. We have raspberry sorbet in 500ml and passion fruit sorbet in 120ml pots, suitable for vegetarians, vegans and also gluten-free.
Which Is Your Favourite Flavour And Why?
I don’t actually have a favourite as they are all so good, I just take it in turns with the flavours that I eat as, of course, variety is the spice of life!
We keep our most popular flavours on the menu all year round but also have seasonal stars, so there are always new ones that become the latest favourite. Last summer, we had coconut in 500ml retail pots and caramelised cookie for the catering trade, but overall I would say the team here would choose the toffee & honeycomb or our salted caramel flavours - which both won gold medals at the National Ice Cream competition and they definitely have a loyal fan base!
Where Can People Buy Your Ice Cream?
We started off small and began selling locally to nearby farm shops. As we began winning awards and accolades and word spread so we are now in high demand selling to a range of eateries and retail outlets across the South, including The Southern Co-operative. We have also recently just opened our own online Caroline's Dairy Shop which is an exciting step forward for us.
What Next For Caroline’s Dairy?
We are just so delighted that we are able to grow and that people love what we do. It means a lot to us that we are able to provide a traditionally made product, using the best ingredients and caring for our happy herd of cows in the way that they deserve. They reward us with the creamiest milk which we all believe is the key to our success. It makes us happy as a small busy team, that we can offer a little bit of luxury and joy with our high-welfare ice cream!
Your Choices Make A Difference
By choosing RSPCA Assured products when you’re out shopping - and even when you are buying ice cream - you help farm animals to have a better life. RSPCA Assured standards mean higher welfare for farmed animals from cows, to sheep, turkeys, salmon, pigs, chickens and egg-laying hens. To find out more about the difference RSPCA Assured makes to farm animals, you can visit our specific welfare pages.