The move followed a month-long review – with help from the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) and the Scottish Government – of its milk supply arrangements in the country in a bid to tackle a 25% surge in fresh milk production since 2014 that has flooded the market.
Surplus milk is currently being transported by Müller to England, where markets can be found for it, which resulted in more than 6,000 tanker movements travelling a total of 2.5m miles each year.
Tiered transport charges
Müller will also introduce a tiered transport charge for dairy farmer suppliers in Scotland from February 2020, with the fastest-expanding dairy farmers shouldering a proportionately higher charge than those who have grown production more modestly.
A full year’s notice has been served to a number of dairy farm suppliers in the north east of Scotland. These dairy farmers are located in areas that have presented heightened or complex logistical transport challenges for Müller. Affected dairy farmers have been contacted directly by the Müller farm services team.
Commenting on the decision, milk supply director Rob Hutchinson recognised that the measures would be extremely unwelcome and destabilising for its suppliers, but said the current situation was unviable.
“We completed the largest single investment in fresh milk processing in Scotland in more than a decade at our dairy in Bellshill last year and we will continue to do what we can to stimulate new demand for fresh milk,” he added.
“But with fresh milk already in 96% of the nation’s fridges and overall consumer demand for the product in marginal decline, the reality is that it is extremely unlikely that this sector will soak up the heightened levels of milk production from farms which we have seen.”
NFUS president Andrew McCornick said the livelihoods and viability of all those Scottish dairy farmers supplying Muller have been undermined by the outcomes of this review.
“None more so than the 14 dairy farmers in Aberdeenshire who have just been served 12-month notice by the company,” McCornick concluded.