By FWi staff

DAIRY CREST and Milk Link have announced a partnership to develop Chard Creamery in Somerset into the biggest and most efficient butter and milk powder plant in the UK.

Initially Dairy Crest, the UKs biggest milk processor, and Milk Link, the Cornwall-to-Kent farmer-owned co-op, will jointly manage the raw collection for Chard.

But there are plans to expand this to include other Dairy Crest processing sites in the south of England.

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The partnership will also invest to increase Chards existing capacity to handle an annual throughput of 750 million litres.

Both companies intend to process milk through the site, sharing efficiencies and profits resulting from the partnership.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with Milk Link to the benefit of dairy farmers, the company and the UK dairy industry,” says John Houliston, Dairy Crests chief executive.

“We believe that this will provide Dairy Crest with the chance to compete effectively with European processors.”

Barry Nicholls, Milk Links chief executive, adds: “It is part of our strategy that processors and producers should work together to take conflict out of the supply chain and this partnership deal will lead to benefits all round.”