UK milk processor Robert Wiseman Dairies and The Co-operative Group are to set up a dedicated milk-supply scheme to serve the retailer’s 4,000 food stores.

The scheme will comprise 350 dairy farmers that are members of the Wiseman Milk Group, a body of 1,000 farmers who supply their milk to the London-listed processor.

Wiseman said that, from August, the 350 farmers that become members of the new scheme dedicated to supplying the Co-op “will benefit from a premium farm-gate milk price”.

Alongside the creation of the scheme, Wiseman has expanded the amount of milk it supplies to the Co-op. At present, the Co-op buys around 275m litres a year. Under the new deal, from August, Wiseman will supply 363m litres.

Wiseman MD Billy Keane: “We are very pleased to further extend our relationship with The Co-operative Group and delighted that this important customer has taken the decision to set up a dedicated group of dairy farmers drawn from the Wiseman Milk Partnership, who will benefit from a premium farm gate milk price.”

By moving to a dedicated supply, The Co-op said it was also committed to setting “clear standards in animal welfare, minimising environmental impact and encouraging bio-diversity on the farms selected for the scheme”.

Tim Hurrell, chief executive of The Co-op’s food business, said the retailer planned to develop “long-term, transparent relationships” with the Wiseman farmers.

“The foundation for this will be our Food Ethical Policy and the DEFRA dairy roadmap, with the focus on animal welfare, environmental stewardship and carbon footprint reduction,” he said.