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Recently named Devon’s Best Farm Processor & Devon’s Farmer of the Year 2023, Surfing Cow have been producing gelato, using milk from their herd of mixed Jersey cows since 2018.
We spoke to dairy farmer and co-owner, Laurence Glanville, to find out how they diversified, grew the business and what is next for them.
About Surfing Cow
Owned by Lawrence and Lee Glanville with business partner Alastair Graham, Surfing Cow was founded on South Battisborough Farm, part of the Flete Estate in 2018. Located on the South Devon coast, close to Mothecombe Beach, Surfing Cow has become popular with tourists visiting the area particularly during the summer months.
Lawrence and Lee moved to Devon in 2005 with their family and took over the tenancy of the farm in 2009. After running the dairy farm for nine years and building a dairy unit, Lawrence and Lee looked to diversify using the milk from their jersey cows to produce ice cream. Together with Alastair, they created Surfing Cow and it has now become a family business with Lawrence and Lee’s daughter Zoe returning to the farm as the production manager.
With the Government announcing lockdown the year after Surfing Cow opened, the team were able to grow the business and continue selling ice cream despite restrictions in place. Zoe quickly set up a website to sell ice cream online and they were able to deliver locally six days a week using two sign written vans which helped increase their visibility locally.
As soon as restrictions were lifted, they were able to reopen their parlour, situated in a converted farm shed, where customers can visit and enjoy their gelato in a cone or purchase take home tubs. They also supply gelato wholesale to businesses across Devon.
Being sustainable and using local produce
With increasing pressure on farmers to be more sustainable, Lawrence explains that the tubs they use are all biodegradable and compostable and that one of their next projects is to use solar power for their business. In addition, they use local produce with ingredients such fudge, brownies and cookies sourced from local businesses. They also use UK made cones and Hattiers Rum, who are also tenants of the Flete Estate, for their rum and raisin flavour.
“We try to work with everybody locally if we can… it’s really important as we’re all in this together”
Challenges they have experienced
Like many farming businesses, Lawrence says that one of their biggest challenges is lack of labour with even part-time staff throughout the summer being difficult to recruit.
The milk that is not used to produce ice cream at Surfing Cow is sold to Arla and, with milk prices falling from 60p in 2022 to 35p or below this year, this is one of the toughest challenges facing the dairy industry.
In addition, Lawrence explains how some ingredients for gelato have increased by as much as 150% in some cases and, with others no longer being available, they have to look hard at what flavours to produce.
Biggest achievements and what is next for Surfing Cow
Surfing Cow were crowned Devon’s Best Farm Processor & Devon’s Farmer of the Year 2023 and the Devon Farm Business Awards and Lawrence says, “we were very lucky to win an award and to be recognised for what we’ve done… it gives you confidence going forward.”
Although not nationwide yet, Lawrence, Lee, Alastair and Zoe have big plans for Surfing Cow. With plans to expand their outlets, sell further afield and increase production of ice cream, this is only the start of the business’s success.
© All photos provided by Surfing Cow
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