Mike Allwood

15 August 1997

Mike Allwood

Mike Allwood is owner-occupier of a 82ha (200-acre) farm near Nantwich, Cheshire. The 175-cow dairy herd block calves during May and June. Mike is also director of Farm Produce Marketing, based on the farm, which manufactures and sells Orchard Maid frozen yogurt, and puts packs of Cheshire milk onto airline breakfast trays.

SHALL I tell you what really annoys me? Farmers who have moved to other milk buyers saying to me "I really need you to stay with Milk Marque because we need a bottom in the market".

So why do I supply Milk Marque when I could perhaps make more money by moving to another buyer? On a personal level Milk Marque has been really helpful to me. It is happy to take a fluctuating daily supply as I retain varying amounts of milk on the farm to process, and its Product Development Centre at Rease-heath has helped us to develop both the products which we now market. In addition, my milk price isnt that bad. I compare notes with friends on what we actually receive for our milk and the results do not bear out what the league tables are saying. My price is about average – take note Barry Wilson.

On a strategic level, let us be under no illusions: Aside from a little organic milk, each of us is producing a commodity which can just as easily be produced by our neighbour down the road. We sell that commodity to a small number of very large organisations who owe it to their shareholders to buy their most important raw material as competitively as possible. For the last two years these organisations have set out to reduce the collective bargaining power of farmers and the current milk price is a testimony to their success at doing so.

We are fast moving towards equilibrium in the market as it will become progressively more difficult for a dairy farmer to move to another customer if he or she is unhappy with the price, and differentials will become much lower than they are now.

As producers, I believe we will be best served by those producer groups which can most effectively bargain for us. To deal effectively with large companies like Dairy Crest or Northern Dairies, we need to be large too. We can wait for another big co-op to evolve or we can, as I do, support the one which we already have – Milk Marque.

We Milk Marque suppliers should put all our efforts into ensuring that our organisation is as good at its job as it can possibly be.n

Stick with Milk Marque to ensure it is as good at its job as it can be, urges Mike Allwood. Besides its flexibility with his fluctuating supplies – varying amounts are retained for processing – its milk price isnt as bad as league tables suggest, he says.

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