6 June 1997

Crest rejects MMproposals

DAIRY CREST bosses have roundly rejected Milk Marque proposals to have milk processed on a contract basis, arguing that it is "inappropriate".

Tenders for the scheme, under which Milk Marque was looking to pay butter/powder manufacturers a fee to process up to 1.8m litres a day closed on Tuesday (June 3).

"We gave it serious consideration, but will not be participating," said Dairy Crest chief executive, John Houliston. "For a start, it does not solve the main problem of the day – that Milk Marque has been unable to sell all its milk because its prices are too high."

Finance director, Ian Laurie, added that "toll processing" could be anti-competitive.

Other companies have been more secretive about their own responses to the tender. But senior representatives of Unigate, Northern Foods and Waterford Foods all had reservations about the trend, believing it could be the "thin end of the wedge".

As FW went to Press on Wednesday, Milk Marque chief executive David Yoemans was unable to reveal the result of the tender, but said the outcome had been positive, despite evidence of a stand-off by DIF members.n