24 September 1998
Dairy companies slam Milk Marque processing plan
By FWi Staff
DAIRY companies have slammed Milk Marques plan to build a new processing factory in south-west England.
The move is “illogical, inconsistent and unnecessary,” said Jim Begg, director general of the Dairy Industry Federation, which represents dairy companies.
Milk Marque chose one of the biggest days in the dairy calendar to reveal plans for a £50 million processing plant near Cullompton in Devon. The proposal was made public yesterday (Wednesday) at the European Dairy Event, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
But the dairy processing companies, which buy much of their milk from Milk Marque, see the move into processing as a direct competitive threat.
Mr Begg said it was only six years since the Milk Marketing Board asked the dairy industry to scale down butter and powdered milk capacity and agreed a £134m compensation package funded by farmers.
Mr Begg claimed there was already enough processing capacity in England and Wales to process every litre of milk produced by farmers.
“For the past two years, Milk Marque has regularly been left with milk on its hands at its twice-yearly auctions, simply because it has tried to charge too much for its milk,” he said.
Mr Begg accused Milk Marque of wanting move into processing so it could squeeze supply in the market, and charge dairy companies higher prices for raw milk.
“This is a classic monopolists tactic and the dangers for the consumer are obvious,” he said.
“Far from creating new jobs in rural communities it will, if allowed to proceed, merely put in jeopardy similar jobs in other rural communities.”