The firm has launched a 45-day statutory consultation to examine the potential of making the roles redundant at its smaller Aberdeen and East Kilbride dairies, while ending milk processing at Aberdeen.
Both dairies were operating well below full utilisation, with more than 60% of the capacity at Aberdeen dairy unused, claimed Müller.
While Müller’s network of distribution depots in Scotland is not under review, some roles at its Aberdeen depot will also fall under consultation. A total of 229 posts are affected across the Aberdeen and East Kilbride sites.
‘Benefitting consumers, customers, employees and farmers’
Müller Milk & Ingredients md Andrew McInnes said: “We aim to reinvigorate our fresh milk and ingredients business in Scotland and propose to invest to make Bellshill a centre of excellence for dairy, benefitting consumers, customers, employees and farmers.
“It is important to stress that the status quo is just not viable in the medium term. Our Scottish dairies are inefficient and costly which is putting a brake on the innovation and investment needed to stimulate new demand for dairy products.”
Müller’s Aberdeen dairy was operating at less than 40% of its capacity and milk production from farmers in the North East was far in excess of customer requirements in the area, he added.
“Our small dairy in East Kilbride makes products, including flavoured milks and potted cream and we believe that we can gain important efficiencies by relocating that production to Bellshill, which is nearby.”
The business was continuing to investigate further opportunities to grow its business in Scotland in a bid to “build a diverse dairy business in the UK”.
Müller said in a statement: “The proposed investment at Bellshill will improve efficiencies and competitiveness whilst giving the dairy the capability to broaden the range of products it is able to make with milk produced by Scottish farmers.”
If the decision was made to end milk processing operations at the Aberdeen dairy, all 43 farmers supplying the site would be offered the opportunity to continue supplying the business, conditional on the acceptance of a 1.75p per litre transport charge. The payment reflected the need to move the milk to Bellshill for processing, said the firm.
Read more about the logistical challenges facing food and drink manufacturers in Scotland here.
One Müller milk supplier’s reaction
“The 43 dairy farmers supplying the Müller site at Aberdeen, which includes myself, have a lot to think about ahead of a meeting with the company, scheduled to take place at Thainstone on Friday morning [April 1],” said National Farmers Union Scotland’s north east chairman, and Müller supplier, Roddy Catto from Hillhead of Muirton Farm, Whitecairns,
“We need to hear more about the investment plans at Bellshill, what that might mean to the Müller business and balance that against any additional transport costs we would face as Müller suppliers, were the Aberdeen site to be wound down.
“The meeting with Müller must leave all dairy farmers in the area with a clearer view on what these proposals will mean, so that farmers can take an informed decision now on their future in milk production.”