20 November 1998

Chance to buy into Avonmore

NEGOTIATIONS are well advanced on a deal which will give West Country milk producers the chance to supply processor Avonmore Waterford and join their Irish counterparts in owning a stake in the company.

It is understood that a price schedule has already been agreed. Producers signing the contract will, if the board agrees, have the option to buy shares.

Somerset milk producer Marshall Taylor believes the deal is potentially attractive. It gives farmers the chance to share in the profits of a pan European company big enough to compete with Continental competitors, he says.

"I am convinced that dairy farmers have to be part of a vertically integrated system and they need to get there fast."

Mr Taylor regrets that Milk Marque has not been allowed to provide the same opportunities. He suspects it will be many years before the co-op can make an impact, unless it makes a predatory bid for an existing processor such as Express or Unigate. &#42