Arla Foods and UK supplier group Arla Foods Milk Partnership have entered into talks in a bid to define how AFMP members can join Arla’s existing farmer-shareholders in ownership of the co-operative.

Three group’s of farmers supply Arla: owners of Arla Milk Link, members of AFMP and direct suppliers. AFMP members already own part of the UK business and the group indicated that they have “long sought” to become full owners on an equal footing with farmers in Arla Milk Link.

Last year, Arla and UK firm Milk Link agreed a merger between the two co-operatives in a deal that brought full-membership a step closer. The parties are now in the process of laying down the “roadmap” for full integration and a transfer of ownership.

“Real negotiations can only begin when we have a plan for what is required,” said Arla Foods chairman Åke Hantoft.

“The work we’re now embarking on confirms that both parties share the ultimate objective that, in the future, we will be able to offer full ownership to the AFMP members who want it and who can comply with the terms of the offer.”