The chairman of First Milk, Bill Mustoe, has announced his intention to step down at the group’s AGM in October.

The chairman of the UK dairy co-op told First Milk members of his decision in a letter this week after four years in the role. The group said it is currently searching for a replacement for Mostoe.

“Throughout my career I’ve learned that there’s always a right time to pass on the baton,” said Mustoe. “None of us are getting any younger and I’ve just turned 70, so with a settled management team and a clear strategy in place, October just seems the most appropriate time.”

In addition, Mustoe confirmed the appointment of Pembrokeshire farmer and board member Nigel Evans to the role of vice chairman designate in place of Tom Campbell. He previously announced his departure, which will also take place in October.

Mustoe also issued a warning on cheese prices, emphasising that they must move “substantially and quickly”.

“The marketplace for cheddar is a problem right now. Money is tight for everyone and there continues to be large volumes of cheddar coming in from Ireland at lower prices, making the cheese market as challenging as anything I’ve seen in my entire career.

“Going forward, returns for cheese need to move substantially and quickly. It’s no exaggeration to say that I think we are coming to a crunch point for the British cheese industry.”