First Milk members set for increased returns

UK farmer-owned dairy co-operative First Milk is set to pay an increased return on investment to farmers following strong performance in the first six months of the financial year.

The co-op’s 1,800 owners normally receive 3% return on investment twice a year, but this year they will receive 8%.

Three percent was paid in the spring and an increased return of 5% will be processed in October – this is worth a total of £2,400 to an average 1m litre farmer member, who has about £30,000 invested in the co-op.

Farmers are set to receive a further return on capital in spring 2014, as well as 5% return on the preference shares that were allocated to members last year following a gain on the sale of Wiseman shares.

“This is the highest return on investment we’ve ever paid and is in line with our aim to return additional money to members as quickly as it is generated in the business,” said chairman Bill Mustoe.

“Our focus is solely on our British farmers – we don’t have private or overseas shareholders to look after.”

In recent months, the co-op had secured good returns from its core sectors, launched two new brands – Lake District Dairy Co. Quark and Frumoo (dairy drink of whole milk blended with fruit) – and benefitted from diverting a portion of milk into milk powder, he said.

First Milk was also focused on exports, with the establishment of a dedicated team and the opening of a Hong Kong office – First Milk Asia – with native Mandarin speakers to make headway in the Asian market, he said.

More on this topic

Business Profile: Kate Allum, chief executive, First Milk