8 March 2002

Milk Link buys Tanner to move into processing

DAIRY co-op Milk Link has acquired long-life milk specialist Tanner Foods for an undisclosed sum.

The move marks the co-ops first significant move into processing. Tanner is the UKs second-largest UHT milk producer, and, says Milk Link, the most modern.

The business, which processes about 120m litres of milk a year, will be run as a wholly owned Milk Link subsidiary.

"The members of Milk Link voted last August to restructure their co-op to allowing investment in processing capacity," said Milk Link chairman, Jeremy Pope. "I am delighted to announce our first acquisition that will allow us to process a significant proportion of our members milk."

About 2700 farmers, mainly in the south and south-west of the country, belong to the co-op and supply about 1.4bn litres of milk a year. Tanners throughput equates to about 9% of that.

Mr Pope added that other acquisitions were on the cards.

Independent consultant Michael Bessey reckons the co-op has made a good move. "Tanner is a well-run operation. It gets Milk Link into the liquid milk market without having to confront the major processors.

"UHT is slowly expanding in the UK, and there is the possibility of new products, such as UHT-based creams and sauces." &#42