First Milk and Milk Link confirm merger talks

First Milk and Milk Link, Britain's two leading farmer-owned dairy businesses have announced that they are in advanced discussions to bring about a full merger of both organisations.

The rationale for a merger is to create an organisation that will deliver enhanced and sustainable returns for its Members, through an increased ability to add value to and secure profitable markets for their milk and milk products.

Milk Link and First Milk have already made significant progress towards providing a profitable and sustainable future for their Members. Both organisations believe that coming together presents a foundation to create a world class, British farmer-owned dairy business with the scale, expertise and ambition to compete with global players.

As part of the merger process, due diligence work has now commenced, and is expected to take a number of weeks. Once this work is completed, the Boards of both businesses will decide whether to recommend a merger. Any merger would be subject to approval by Members of both organisations, and the Office of Fair Trading.

First Milk and Milk Link are complementary in terms of their membership bases, processing assets, positions in key markets and customers The organisations have a combined turnover of around £1 billion, handle around 3 billion litres of milk a year, and are owned by 4,250 dairy farmers in England, Scotland and Wales.

Editor's notes:

About Milk Link

  • Milk Link is a farmer-owned business, which handles around 1.1 billion litres of milk from 1,650 producers.
  • It is one of the UK's leading producers of cheese, long life milk and dairy ingredients. Supplying all the UK's major retailers, many of its leading food service and food processing businesses as well as a number of export markets.
  • It has creameries in Taw Valley (Devon), Melton Mowbray (Leicestershire), Malpas (Cheshire) and Lockerbie (Scotland), and a packing facility in Oswestry, (Shropshire). All produce a range of cheeses for the retail and foodservice markets.
  • It also has milk beverage and cream processing facilities at Crediton, Devon and Kirkcudbright in Scotland.
  • Milk Link has a 50% stake in Staplemead Dairy Products, a joint venture with Arla Foods, manufacturing retail cream, flavoured milks, and custards; and a 20% stake in Westbury Dairies.
  • In the year to 31 March 2007 Milk Link reported a turnover of £509m and a profit before tax of £15m.

About First Milk

  • First Milk is a farmer-owned dairy business, which handles around 1.8 billion litres of milk from 2,600 producers
  • It is one of the UK's leading producers of cheese and dairy ingredients.
  • It owns creameries in Aspatria (Cumbria), Haverfordwest (Pembrokeshire) and on the Islands of Bute, Arran and the Mull of Kintyre in the Scottish Highlands & Islands. All produce branded and retailer branded cheddar primarily for the retail sector. The company also has a cheese packing plant near Wrexham
  • The company has an ingredients business based near Wrexham supplying products to customers within the UK and overseas
  • First Milk has a 15% stake in Robert Wiseman Dairies plc and a 40% stake in Westbury Dairies, which produces milk powders and a 50% stake in Promo-Vita, a pre-biotic joint venture with Fayrefield Foods International
  • In the year ending 31 March 2006 First Milk reported a turnover of £476m and a profit before tax of £5.7m
For Further Information

Milk Link
Will Sanderson
Corporate Affairs Director
Office: 01454 252308
Mobile: 07969 918542

First Milk
Paul Flanagan
Group Communications Director
Office: 0141 847 6789
Mobile: 07767 241452