BUSINESS advisers in York have brokered a deal to help the expansion plans of the only UK farm making yoghurt from a ninth century Icelandic recipe.

The corporate finance team at York-based Garbutt & Elliott helped Hesper Farm Dairies Ltd secure major investment from two entrepreneurs, enabling it to now triple its workforce to boost production.

Hesper Farm, Skipton, has been producing Skyr for four years after the family farm’s third generation, Sam Moorhouse, visited Iceland to learn the ancient Viking recipe after finding no one in Britain then made the thick, creamy natural yoghurt.

Sam, the managing director, was introduced to Garbutt & Elliott partner, Tony Farmer, because of the firm’s specialist food and beverage sector expertise.

Hesper Farm’s Skyr yoghurt, made in its purpose-built diary, using milk from its pedigree Holstein Friesian herd, has been produced by only three people but is supplied to 110 northern stores, including Booths, several Morrisons, supermarkets, farm shops and Harrods, London.

Sam said: “Tony and his team have been integral in positioning us for the next stage in our development. We are grateful for their expertise and the new investors who have placed faith in us.

“The investment, and setting up an accounting system, enables us to pursue a national supermarket account. Our long-term aim is to make Hesper Farm the top British Skyr brand and to introduce other innovative dairy products.

“We are creating six new jobs and will make about 55,000kg of Skyr this year compared with around 9,000kg in our first 12 months.”

Skyr yoghurt is made in a 24-hour labour-intensive process, with minimal mechanisation, by incubating skimmed milk with live active cultures and straining away the whey. Each pot uses four times as much milk as traditional plain yogurt, making it thick and creamy. The only sweetness is natural.

Tony Farmer said: “Sam has a great natural product and the new investors are supporting an innovative UK food product with huge sales potential. We are excited to be applying our food sector experience to assist the growth of the business.”

Lead investor, founder and chairman of Elland-based BCA Group, Wim Batist, says: “While Sam had financial help from his parents to set up, he needed a lot more to reach where he wants to be. His business has potential to become a multi-million pound operation, especially with his strict quality control.”