Under the terms of the partnership, Eilers & Wheeler will be its preferred partner for export sales of cheese and packet butter.
First Milk spokesperson Paul Flanagan said the dairy would initially export bulk cheese but will soon look to sell its branded products overseas. He said Eilers & Wheeler sees particularly strong potential in its Lake District cheese company.
No limit has been set on the geographic scope of the export plans. First Milk is open to opportunities in every continent so long as the commercial arguments stake up.
As an international supplier of dairy products, Eilers & Wheeler has a global distribution network that First Milk can use.
Attractive world price
Motivating the export strategy is the current strength of world dairy prices which Flanagan said are expected to remain buoyant at least into the medium term.
Kate Allum, CEO of First Milk, said in a statement: “Currently world markets are providing strong margins for UK dairy products and with most commentators predicting that global demand will continue, we recognised that we needed an experienced partner to drive our export sales.”
Giving a roadmap for the export plans, Allum continued: “We have agreed to move a growing percentage of our cheese through this route and will evaluate progress on an ongoing basis.”
The deal with Eilers & Wheeler comes in the context of a number of other partnerships that First Milk has recently signed throughout its supply chain. It has, for example, partnered with Anglia Farmers to improve farm input sourcing for its members and has linked up with Grocotts and Culina to improve storage and distribution.
First Milk is a farmer-owned dairy business, handling 1.5 billion litres of milk annually.