24 March 2000

UM woos non-members

FARMER-OWNED United Milk is inviting non-members to invest in its planned £30m liquid milk processing plant.

The move is designed to counter a predicted drop in membership through retirement. It does not reflect a lack of interest among the existing 800 members, says chief executive Don Morris.

"Some people are opting to leave the industry. We anticipate that our membership will also erode."

More milk is also needed to meet demand once the factory is commissioned, says Mr Morris. Members currently produce about 850m litres a year, suggesting the new site, to be built in the heart of UMs milk field in the south of England, will be much bigger than the 500m litres a year figure previously mooted. Details are expected in the next few weeks.

Associate membership will be offered to non-members from April.

The cost of an associate membership share is £250, plus an annual membership fee of £100 to cover administration costs. Producers will then take up ordinary shares at a later date.

More information (0800-169 5070). &#42