Last week, dairy giant Muller announced it was dropping 14 of its milk suppliers in north east Scotland and introducing haulage charges.
The move was announced following a month-long review of the milk processors’ 230 Scottish suppliers, where Muller found supply is “substantially” outstripping demand. In response to its findings, the company decided to reduce the volume of milk it bought in Scotland. The 14 dairy farms who will soon be given their twelve-month termination notice are based in Aberdeenshire, an area where Muller claim have complicated logistical challenges.
Muller also announced it plans to introduce a transport charge to suppliers in Scotland from February 2020. The charge will be based on a tiered structure of 0.25p, 0.55p or 0.85p per litre depending on the volume of milk a supplier has produced in 2019 when compared to two years ago. This amounts to a significant drop in income for dairy farmers who are already struggling to survive on the current price of milk. The charge is being implemented because of the cost of transporting the surplus of milk to other areas where there is a demand.
The environmental impact of transporting milk
Currently, Muller transports its excess milk from Scotland over the border into various parts of England. As it stands, the surplus is such an amount that it equates to 6000 tankers travelling 2.5 million miles each year. As well as the additional expense, transporting milk like this releases incredible amounts of dangerous, and avoidable, emissions into the atmosphere. A particularly worrying problem for a dairy giant like Muller considering the industry is already under scrutiny for its environmental impact.
A spokesperson for Muller Milk and Ingredients, Rob Hutchinson, said "we fully appreciate that these measures will be extremely unwelcome and destabilising for our farmer suppliers particularly in the north east of Scotland, but the current situation is unviable, and we must act.”
In response to the news, President of Scotland’s National Farmers Union Andrew McCornick, lamented the move, saying “we now have producers looking to find a new buyer in the next year if they wish to continue milking cows. While others, through haulage charges, face a significant cut in income at a time when milk prices are struggling to cover the cost of production.” He goes on to say that this “is a further sign of deep-rooted issues within the UK liquid milk market.”
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