9 July 1999

MM face-to-face July sales pitch

THE Monopolies and Mergers Commission report into the UK milk market may be hot off the press (see News), but Milk Marque also has to deal with the immediate problem of its July selling round.

Sources close to MM confirm the July round, said to be starting next week, will be held behind closed doors following "positive soundings" with the buyers.

It was only by adopting this face-to-face method with individual companies that MM executives were able to complete last Januarys selling process, which dragged into late March after the first two rounds failed due to lacklustre bidding.

The hope is for better prices, though the continued strength of the £, which has cut exports and driven down intervention prices, will not help, observers reckon.

"Most operators in the dairy products business can look back at one of the most difficult six-month trading periods seen for many years," says consultant Mike Bessey. "However, dairy companies have managed to maintain their profits in that time." &#42