FIRST MILK has pulled out of the race to buy Associated Co-operative Creameries, the Co-operative Group‘s milk business and the UK‘s fifth-largest milk processor.

A spokesman for First Milk would not be drawn on specific details, but said: “We have worked through every detail of the ACC deal, and taken it as far as necessary to confirm that acquiring the business would not be in the interests of our membership.”

It is now believed that Robert Wiseman Dairies and Dairy Farmers of Britain are the only two remaining parties interested in taking over the business, which was put up for sale in April.

The asking price for ACC is now reckoned to be over £80m, although upwards of £30m will be needed to bring its assets up to a modern and efficient state.