16 September 1997
Companies queue up to work for Milk Marque

By Boyd Champness

THE long-running feud between UK dairy companies and farmer co-operative Milk Marque seems to have abated after a number of UK companies put in tenders to process milk on the co-ops behalf.

Milk Marque says a total of 17 companies from the UK and abroad have put their names forward to process milk on their behalf for the next round of contracts, which start in October and end in December.

In June, Milk Marque approached UK dairy companies asking them how much it would cost to hire their facilities to process milk left over from the latest selling round. The milk was to be processed into butter, whole- and skimmed-milk powder and bulk cream and returned to the co-op.

Although Milk Marque believed that it had offered a “fair commercial proposition”, not one UK dairy company put forward a quotation – forcing Milk Marque to send its milk overseas to Dutch processor Coberco.

Milk Marque spokesman Jonathan Horrell said the co-op then sent a letter to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) complaining about the UK dairy industrys lack of interest in the offer.

“We only asked them to name a price. We saw no commercial reason why they shouldnt have been interested. And thats why we complained to the OFT,” Mr Horrell said.

Mr Horrell would not reveal how many UK companies out of the 17 hopefuls had officially tendered, saying only that he was “pleased” with the local response. But he did say that the co-op would now be dropping its complaint to the OFT following UK response to the latest buying round.