A simple, plain yoghurt made in Suffolk, England, was crowned Supreme Champion in Great Taste 2013. The Greek-style yoghurt, made from cows’ milk, was produced by Marybelle Dairy, a family business that was founded with the main purpose of preserving and caring for a herd of 200 cows and thus working towards a sustainable future of dairy farming. FOUR magazine talks to manager Katherine Manning.

My day starts at 6am with a military style operation to get myself, my husband, our toddler, Grace, and our dog out of the door by 7:25am. I drop Grace off at a morning nursery and then make my way to the farm, about 40 miles from home, where I work in the office from Tuesday to Friday.

I arrive at the farm office at 8.30 and start the day by catching up with my father, David, to see if anything happened during the night, van breakdowns etc. Currently my brother, James, is at the dairy from 7.30am doing the morning orders for our lorry (it has to leave the yard by 11.30am to go to our largest clients). 

Morning activities generally include numerous phone calls talking to customers. We have over 300 customers that we deliver to 6 days a week with over 300 product lines, so invariably there are a few things that need to be straightened out each day. Then there are the emails to contend with and of course a few moments spent divulged in Twitter and Facebook to make sure we’re keeping up to date on all that’s viral.

On a day-to-day basis, I personally cover deliveries, product enquires, customer enquiries, where to source our products, ice cream sales, ice cream orders and production schedules, product recipes, ingredients stock & ordering, marketing, social media, HR, auditing, hazard analysis, health & safety, general customer service, all whilst occasionally getting a tug on the leg by my gorgeous daughter as she strives for a bit more of mummy time in the afternoons.

The dairy is about 10 miles away from the farm and I am trying to work less at the farm office and more at the dairy. It’s pretty much a 24-hour site, so there is always a need for one of us to be there. I can generally aim to get there by about 11am at which time I snack on one of our yummy healthy yoghurts.

At the dairy there are always questions from staff and I devote 15-20 minutes a day to Steve Peckett, our Dairy Manager, in case there is anything he needs me to get sorted out or answer questions. Heather makes our ice cream, in the winter that’s only 1-2 days per week so she doesn’t need to see me as much, but in the summer it’s 6 days a week production so I do spend quite a bit of my day in the ice cream room. We have 15 members of staff altogether at the dairy, including driving staff.

At 4pm the evening orders staff are at the office, so I quickly check with them to make sure everything is OK before heading back to the farm to continue with email, social media, planning for the next day and before you know it the clock is fast approaching 6pm and I need to be getting in the car to get my daughter home to bed by 7pm. I then feed the pets and cook dinner for Rob and me. I also like to fit in yoga or running in the evenings.

I love what I do – I’m so glad that I took the step to leave the corporate world and come and work with my family. Winning the Supreme Champion in the Great Taste Awards was a huge achievement and a massive boost for us all. Here at Marybelle I feel I have the power to make a meaningful difference. We create products of great quality with real ingredients and the reason we do it is pure and simple: Keep Britain Farming.