By FWi staff

FARMERS belonging to five independent milk groups have overwhelmingly voted in favour of the proposal to merge their organisations and form United Milk plc.

The producer members of Camelot, Somerset, Stour Vale, United Milk Producers and Wessex Milk all voted in favour of the move late last week.

Directors from the five companies say that the new venture will offer farmers significant benefits, including more negotiating power when selling milk to processors.

United Milk will be the largest independent milk group in England and Wales, with an estimated 8% of the liquid milk market and an output of 850 million litres.

“We couldnt have wished for a better start,” said Richard Ashworth, United Milk chairman.

“The response from our members has been tremendous and the message this sends out to the rest of the industry is loud and clear – that milk producers intend to work together in order to improve their current circumstances.”

The assets of each milk group will be transferred to the new company in exchange for shares, which will be issued to members on a pro-rata volume basis.

The subsequent fundraising scheme is intended to build a capital sum of well over £1 million.

Many members have already expressed their intention to invest more than their basic entitlement, claimed Mr Ashworth.

As a result, the board has decided to increase the number of shares available in the “additional share offer” due to be issued in August, he said.

“We have a big job ahead of us,” stressed Mr Ashworth.

“To get from where we are now to where we want to be in the future will require a further change of attitude, and a new united approach.”

  • Milk groups plan major merger, FWi, 01 March, 1999