The fresh milk processor, Müller Milk & Ingredients, has warned the 230 dairy farmers in Scotland who supply the company, that current levels of farm milk production are not supported by demand for fresh milk products. The company has also pointed to knock-on impacts on its English operations.
The company said that, with production from its Scottish suppliers increasing by 25% since 2014, the current situation is ‘not sustainable and has significant environmental consequences’.
In response, it confirmed the launch of a review of its dairy farmer suppliers in Scotland to ‘address the issue both short term and strategically’.
“Fresh milk is loved and in 96% of the nation’s fridges, but consumption is marginally down year on year,” said Rob Hutchison, Milk Supply and Operations Director at Müller Milk & Ingredients. “As a result, Müller is transporting 180 million litres per annum – equivalent to 33 litres of additional milk for every person in Scotland – to our dairies in England, where we can find a market for it.
“The financial and environmental cost of moving this volume of milk is substantial and we must work urgently with farmers who supply us and other industry stakeholders to review a range of measures to address this increasingly unsustainable situation both in the short and longer term.”
The company added that it will discuss the issue over the next month with the Müller Milk Group, the elected farmer board which represents its dairy farmer suppliers, while also seeking views from other industry stakeholders.
“Müller will then determine measures to be taken once the review period is complete,” it said.
NFU Scotland milk committee chairman, John Smith, responding to the review announcement, said: “This be a real concern for all Muller producers in Scotland. Officeholders and policy staff at NFUS have already taken a number of calls from worried members.
“They can be reassured that, as a matter of urgency, NFUS will seek a discussion with Muller management at the earliest opportunity at which we will present their views and seek a better understanding of the short and long term strategy for the Muller supply chain in Scotland.”