Announcing a plan for large-scale, producer-owned processing to farmers in southern, southwestern and central England, United Milk will shortly be inviting dairy farmers to invest in ‘tomorrow’s dairy company’, in a bid to reverse the fortunes of UK milk producers.

“We believe our plans to establish a world class, producer-owned milk processing and manufacturing business represents one of the most significant developments in UK dairy farming since the creation of the Milk Marketing Board in the 1930s,” announced Richard Ashworth, chairman, United Milk plc. “They will require courage, vision and fresh thinking. But in our view they offer the most prized solution to the current financial difficulties facing UK dairy farmers.”

Modelled on large-scale producer-owned processing dairies in Europe and Australasia, and drawing on the skills and expertise of a multinational construction and engineering team, United Milk’s new business has its sights firmly set on building one of the largest and most modern milk processing facilities in the UK, able to compete in the national and international marketplace.

“We learned very early that in adopting a world class approach we would need to be large scale in the development of our new business, as well as multi-functional in terms of the range of products it should be producing,” said chief executive, Don Morris.

“From day one, our plan is to build the facility with sufficient capacity to process in excess of 800 million litres per annum, but with the infrastructure in place to allow for significant expansion.”

“We intend to build our new facility in two distinct phases. Phase one will take up one third of the preferred site for the production of cream, butter and milk powders, with the emphasis on producing products at the upper end of the quality range demanded by the large, international food companies. Our aim is to develop the remaining two thirds subsequently for the production of liquid milk and a range of other value added products.”

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“Most significant in the early development of our new business is our ambition to deliver a secure supply contract and an improvement on milk price to its producer-shareholders within the shortest possible time-scale. The key benefits of opting for a dairy ingredients based strategy include, firstly, a readily accessible and substantial international market which will enable our new business to start trading immediately. But, secondly, our commitment to pay producers a premium price, the result of being able to sell these products into markets which have the benefit of EU intervention and to produce them at well below the cost of manufacture assumed in the IMPE calculation.”