20 December 2000
Milk merger ‘starts repair of industry’

By Donald MacPhail

THE planned merger of two major UK milk co-ops heralds the beginning of repairs to damage caused by monopoly watchdogs, claims a farmers leader.

Axis, which was formed when the Monopolies and Mergers Commission ordered the Milk Marque co-op to split, plans to join up with Scottish Milk.

They will form British Milk with 4500 farmer-members and trade 2.2 billion litres of milk a year, 18% of the UKs raw milk. Turnover will exceed 400m.

National Farmers Union of Scotland president Jim Walker said: “This signals the start of the essential repair to the structure of our dairy industry.

“UK dairy farmers were put at a competitive disadvantage by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission ruling that forced Milk Marque to split into three regional co-ops.

“This is a milestone for the Scottish and UK dairy industry.”

National Farmers Union milk and dairy produce chairman Terrig Morgan said this was good news for dairy farmers and for the dairy industry as a whole.

The NFU had long argued that to be successful, dairy farmers and milk selling groups must aim to develop and grow to the benefit of their members, he said.

“The announcement that Scottish Milk and Axis are to merge is a vindication of that view,” said Mr Morgan.

Farmers Union of Wales milk and dairy produce committee chairman Robert Voyle said: “If this results in higher prices and lower costs for dairy farmers in Wales, then it can only be good news for the industry.”

Co-ops Axis (which covers the Midlands and Wales), Meadow Fresh Milk and Zenith were established in April following the break-up of Milk Marque.