In 2010, a dedicated group of First Milk farmers was set around Nestlé's site at Girvan in Ayrshire. The partnership is now being boosted with a farmer supply group set up around Nestlé's Dalston site in Cumbria from July 2014.
The site is home to products such as Café Menu sachet products, including hot chocolate and cappuccinos.
The value and length of the agreement is as yet unclear, but a First Milk spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk it offered its farmers “greater volume that we can sell into markets”.
‘Protection against volatility’
“It gives us some protection against the volatility of markets,” he said, adding that the contract would put the group in a better position to offer favourable milk prices to dairy farmers.
The deal offers attractive eco-friendly benefits. For example, farmers supplying the Girvan and Dalston sites come from nearby farms, reducing the distance distribution trucks need to travel.
The milk producers have automatically joined the Nestlé First Milk Sustainability Partnership, entailing commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost the amount of milk from cows fed on forage – the cheapest feed. The 65 First Milk farmers supplying the Girvan plant have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.7%.
The partnership also encourages suppliers to work on biodiversity projects and six of the farmers supplying the Girvan site have now committed more than 60 acres of land to develop biodiversity programmes. This follows the lead of Nestlé UK & Ireland to plant wildflower meadows on all its sites to attract butterflies and other species.
First Milk’s milk will be used in the production of chocolate crumb, an essential ingredient in the production of Nestlé's chocolate in the UK and Ireland.
“Working alongside First Milk and its farmers, our supply chain will be more sustainable, more efficient and have a reduced environmental impact,” said Brett Whitfield, head of procurement, Nestlé UK & Ireland. “Nestlé has the scale to positively impact on the lives of our suppliers and their communities due to the intake of milk into the Girvan and Dalston site.”
First Milk’s sales director, Fraser Brown, said: “The partnership with Nestlé benefits our farmers, the local communities around Girvan, Dalston and the wider environment. Nestlé's commitment to a relationship built on the foundations of a short sustainable supply chain is a vision which First Milk and its British farmer owners fully share.
“The progress which has been made on resource efficiencies, carbon reduction and biodiversity meadows has only been possible as a result of the unique way in which this partnership works.”