Mackie’s ice cream tastes even sweeter with long-term investment in green technology.
Read time: 3 mins Added: 15/09/2022
Ice cream company Mackie’s of Scotland anticipate making a 70% saving on their refrigeration-related electricity usage, and a 80% reduction in the associated carbon emissions, after investing in an efficient low-carbon system following £4.5m funding support.
Mackie’s is a 5th generation family business. They switched from being a typical dairy farm to making ice cream following an unexpected surplus of cream in the 1980s. Based remotely at Westertown farm, Aberdeenshire, Mackie’s have always aimed to work as sustainably as they can, using a combination of natural resources and modern technologies to reach their ambitious green goals.
Working with the environment
Living in one of the windiest locations in Europe, Mackie’s have long seen the benefit of harnessing wind power – with their first small grid-connected wind turbine initially generating electricity in 1982. Getting the most out of the natural assets that surround the farm-based ice cream dairy is a philosophy Mackie’s call ‘Sky to Scoop’.
Renewable energy income
Making frozen food requires a lot of energy. Seeing the success of their initial turbine experiment, Mackie’s installed a large 850kW turbine at the top of the hill on the farm in 2005. In addition to its sustainable credentials, the huge benefits this had to Mackie’s bottom line helped to convince the family business to install a further three turbines.
In 2015, to dovetail with the energy produced by the wind, Mackie’s also installed what was then the largest solar farm in Scotland, with a view to being 100% energy self-sufficient, which would effectively result in free energy. With the cost-of-living crisis taking hold, these measures have helped to insulate Mackie’s from rising energy costs. And where Mackie’s produce excess green energy, it can be sold back to the grid, providing a valuable stream of income in difficult times.
Mackie’s have recently completed installation of their largest green investment to date: a low-carbon refrigeration system. With its £4.5m price tag, the decision wasn’t taken lightly, but with estimated reductions of up to 70% in refrigeration-related electricity use and 80% in associated carbon emissions – it was well worth pursuing.
“Costs are going up across the board, impacting our margins. But the investment in self-generated, sustainable power is not only protecting us, it’s providing an extra income.”
Mac Mackie, Managing Director, Mackie's of Scotland
Keep it local
Another green approach employed by the business is keeping it local. Mackie’s decided to invest in a moulding machine to make their own tubs on site rather than importing them all the way from Sweden. This cut transportation to the ice cream dairy from thousands of miles to just 200 metres. Mackie’s are constantly looking for ways to further vertically integrate their business, which has particularly beneficial effects given their remote location. For example, all fruit sauces, compotes and honeycomb pieces for the different flavours of ice cream and chocolate are made on the farm.
Not only is this better for the environment, saving on transportation miles, but it is also better for the consumer in quality. This all brings Mackie’s closer to achieving their vision of being a global brand, from the greenest company in Britain, created by people having fun.
Sustainable support from Bank of Scotland
Our support has enabled Mackie’s to achieve many of their green goals. A 10-year asset finance loan helped get sustainable projects off the ground. The returns were so good, Mackie’s could pay back the loan in just 5 years. With the support of our Clean Growth Finance Initiative, Mackie’s were able to invest in greener technology.
The relationship also goes beyond finances, with Mackie’s regularly speaking with their Bank of Scotland Relationship Manager. From this they’ve learned a lot from useful introductions to likeminded businesses. Being able to share ideas and experiences has opened their eyes to new ways of ‘doing the right thing’ better.
Learnings from experience
For any business setting its sights on similar goals, Mackie’s have their own advice to pass on. As they discovered, there’s always someone who knows more than you. So, speak to other businesses; there’s a world of information out there. Things take time to show a return on investment, so be patient and think long term. And finally, take the first steps now, they wish they’d started sooner, despite having built the first wind turbine in the 1980s!
“Over the years we’ve realised there’s no such thing as difficulties in the Mackie’s world – they’re instead treated as opportunities. They are always willing to take things on and if anyone says they can’t do it, they’ll give it a try. By supporting them in their ventures, Bank of Scotland can help to make their ice cream the greenest in the world.”
Marc Gilmour Relationship Manager, Bank of Scotland
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