Muller Wiseman will increase its standard litre non-aligned milk price to 32.5p/litre on 21 October.

The price will be paid to 381 non-aligned producers in the company’s Muller Wiseman Milk Group (MWMG).

Earlier this month the processor confirmed the Muller Wiseman Formula contract price for the three-month period from 1 October would be set at 34.55p/litre.

Producers in the group, on both the standard litre contract and formula contract pricing schedules – some farmers have a proportion of their milk on formula with the remainder on standard pricing – are also on track to receive a 1p/litre incentive triggered by increased production at the end of the milk year, the company said.

“Price increase not a result of protests”

The increased price reflected continuing pressure on UK milk supplies against a backdrop of strengthening global dairy commodities, and was not a result of dairy farmer protests, insisted Muller Wiseman Dairies supply chain planning director Martin Armstrong.

“As we enter the atuumn and winter months it is important to act in order to ensure that we can secure the milk required to meet our customers’ requirements,” he said.

“The MWMG Board has worked tirelessly in the latest discussions and it is their reasoned and informed arguments, not illegal blockades organised by people who do not supply us, which have been pivotal in the agreement of the latest increase.”

MWMG chairman Roddy Catto described last week’s blockades at Muller’s site in Market Drayton, Shropshire, organised by farm lobby group Farmers For Action (FFA), as “counterproductive”.

“We stressed to FFA organisers that we were at an advanced stage in our dicsussion with the company and made it clear that threatening serious disruption was against our advice, and more importantly, potentially damaging to our farmers’ interests,” said Mr Catto.

“This was ignored and as a result, progress was halted and valuable time was wasted because the company’s focus was taken away from discussions and on to issues like farm collections and deliveries to customers. It makes no sense whatsoever to undermine the work of the MWMG farmer board in this way.”

But FFA spokesman for Derbyshire/Staffordshire Paul Rowbottom refuted MWMG chairman Roddy Catto’s claims that he had told them they were at an advanced stage in milk price discussions.

“I spoke to Roddy Catto last week and asked him if there was a price rise coming through so we didn’t have to protest and he said he was waiting on it and there was nothing on it,” said Mr Rowbottom.

“At the end of the day, we don’t want to go protesting but unfortunately it’s the only thing [that works]. We went on Thursday and on Tuesday there was a price increase.”

No further immediate milk price protests were planned, but if Dairy Crest and Arla didn’t follow Muller’s lead and announce milk price increases, FFA would target their sites, said Mr Rowbottom.

Milk prices needed to reach 35p/litre, he said. “There is no reason why they cannot pay other than they don’t want to,” he added.

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