21 September 2001

Dairy companies taking steps to improve output

FEW dairy companies admit they will be short of milk this year, but some are taking steps to boost winter production.

Wiseman Dairies has announced an incentive scheme to encourage its direct suppliers to produce more milk for the last three months of this year.

Pete Nicholson, milk procurement director, told farmers weekly that the scheme had been tested in Aberdeenshire for the past two years and it was now time to roll it out across the rest of the companys supply base.

"We have an annual problem with a trough in supply at the end of the year and there is a perception that the re-opening of the over-30-month scheme and the cost of feeding additional cattle this winter will deepen this trough."

Wisemans suppliers will be told of last years production between October and November, which will act as their base. "Any amount above this during those months will earn 3p/litre on those additional litres, payable in January with their December milk cheque."

Dairy Crest announced a similar scheme recently to raise output from October to December. It will pay producers 1p/litre more for additional volume compared with last year, and the same again for supplies which are over 5% above year-ago levels.

Express Milk Partnership is taking a different tack. The direct supply group announced it is starting a recruitment drive to meet its needs for liquid milk.

This is the first time EMP has actively tried to attract new members in its eight-year history, said vice-chairman, Jonathan Ovens, though it has lost some members to co-ops recently.

It is looking for an additional 200-300m litres, about 200-300 new members throughout the UK, with key recruitment drives in the midlands, north and south-east.

"Producers have the option to direct sell and get the best price for their milk, or sell to a co-op and end up funding a move to processing. We think its better they use that money to invest in their own businesses." &#42