No rush to processing Axis chief

4 May 2000

No rush to processing — Axis chief

By FWi staff

THE chairman of a farmers co-operative given permission by the government to process its own milk says he will not rush into the market.

Stephen Byers, secretary of state for trade and industry, gave the regional producer the go-ahead to process their own milk on Wednesday (3 May).

His decision followed an inquiry by the Director General of Fair Trading into the milk markets operation since the break-up of Milk Marque.

Milk Link, Axis and Zenith are successor groups to Milk Marque. But Poul Christensen, chairman Axis, said processing was just one option being considered.

“Were going to look at every option very carefully and we will make decisions based on the best commercial future for our dairy farmer members,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

“But it does not mean that we ourselves necessarily will rush out and buy into processing immediately.”

Mr Christensen acknowledged there was pressure from farmers to move into the market for processed milk products.

But the situation differed from countries where farmer controlled co-operatives process their own milk, he added.

“Were starting from a different base, and to suppose that one can thrust aside all the existing processors and grab their share of the market is bizarre.”

“The need to get into processing has to be done in a way which is not confrontational to our existing customers. For if it is it will not succeed.”

Milk Marque voluntarily split up after the Monopolies and Mergers Commission found it was exploiting its monopoly in the supply of raw milk.

Milk Link, Axis and Zenith were allowed to take over Milk Marques business on condition they remained independent.

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