31 July 1998

Marque to rejig selling after round breakdown

By Robert Harris

MILK Marque is to revamp its milk selling process following the refusal of the major dairy companies to bid for contracts commencing Oct 1.

It has not actually decided how to proceed, though talks with customers over the next month will include a warning that successive rounds, which force down the milk price, will not be acceptable.

"There are a number of ways forward for us – we are determined to get better prices for our members," says Milk Marque managing director Paul Beswick.

The breakdown of the selling round appears to have been ignored by some quota brokers, says Charles Holt, a member of the Farm Consultancy Group.

"Recently, we have been able to lease 3.8% quota for 6.8p/litre, and 3.65% for 6.6p. And we have purchased 3.8% clean quota for 31p/litre. A lot of agents want more."

Andrew Ranson, of Banbury-based Clayson Haselwood, thinks producers will be lucky to see any rise in milk values. "I would suggest that Milk Marque will have to achieve 0.5p/litre more just to keep the producer price the same."

Longer term contracts are expiring and because Milk Marque has lost market share costs have risen, he explains. "This has got to be a card in the hand for lessees. Whether it is enough for prices to ease back, no-one knows. But it is very unlikely they will rise."

&#8226 There are few changes in this months milk price table. The notable exception is Unigate, which is paying a 2p seasonality bonus ahead of other buyers. Last month, it was deducting 2.5p/litre.

The 22.51p/litre result is payable only to farmers who achieve all six targets outlined in the table.