Milk Link forms organic milk partnerships

Milk Link is developing its organic milk business by forming strategic partnerships with OMSCo and Yeo Valley.

Organic milk co-op OMSCo will collect and market Milk Link’s organic milk pool. The firm said this would improve collection densities and milk utilisation creating greater efficiencies and security of supply for both organisations’ customers.

The combining of the milk pools will be complemented by more effective balancing through the production of organic cheese at Milk Link’s Taw Valley creamery in Devon, said Milk Link.

Cheese output at Taw Valley is set to increase markedly following the deal with Yeo Valley, the UK’s leading organic dairy brand, which already sources all its milk from OMSCo.

Under the agreement, Milk Link subsidiary The Cheese Company will market a new range of cheeses under the Yeo Valley brand as well as taking on the sale and distribution of the business’s existing organic cheese range, which is currently produced by smaller, independent cheese makers.

Neil Kennedy, managing director of The Cheese Company, said there was huge potential to grow the market for organic cheese in the UK. “Organic liquid milk accounts for 5-5% of the overall market but cheese is only 2%.”

Only 4500t of organic cheese are currently produced in the UK and Yeo Valley, which entered the market two and a half years ago, has an 11% share. Mr Kennedy said he hoped to grow output from Taw Valley to over 5000t. “That would be worth £40m but it won’t happen overnight,” he said.

The first organic mild cheddar from Taw Valley would be ready in August said Mr Kennedy, with mature variants following in the New Year.

Tim Mead, managing director of Yeo Valley, said: “The organic dairy market has been one of the most dynamic in the grocery trade for 10 years, growing ten-fold over the past decade. Its success is one of the key reasons for this project.

“To sustain this impressive growth rate there is now a need for greater co-operation within the sector, and access to milk balancing facilities of scale if we are going to achieve our aim of helping the market to grow ten times more in the next ten years.”