Westbury back on track

WESTBURY DAIRIES unveiled an upbeat strategy for its future at the plant‘s official opening recently, but the lack of detail disappointed some in attendance.

Chairman Ben Gill said: “We must wean Westbury off intervention sales, which were a key original market for the plant, and turn our focus to products that are in demand in the real market.”

The Wilts butterfat and skimmed milk powder plant showed its value during the spring flush of 2002 when it was owned by co-op United Milk.

It added an estimated £40m to farmers‘ milk cheques by taking excess milk off the market.

But UM subsequently went into receivership with its assets taken over by the three major milk co-ops last year.

Dairy Farmers of Britain and First Milk both own a 40% share, with Milk Link holding the balance.

Sir Ben said he would be seeking more added-value for its products.

The key would be to obtain the maximum value from the marketplace and improve returns from the less valuable parts of the product run.

Milk quota broker Ian Potter said some of Westbury‘s 220 direct suppliers whom he spoke to at the launch were disappointed by the lack of detail included in the company‘s new strategy.

“They expected more and some were questioning whether they should stay as suppliers,” he said.

But Sir Ben said the details were commercially sensitive.

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