New style milk deal at Lactalis welcomed by dairy farmers

Dairy farmer Rory Christie
Dairy farmer Rory Christie

Dairy farmers who supply milk to the cheese packing plant in Stranraer have been rewarded with a new milk price deal that guarantees a minimum price of 27.5p per litre for 2017.

The welcome news follows a threat by many milk producers to walk away from the French-based company in October after they were offered a best price of 25p per litre. Many said a price of 30p per litre was the only way they could remain viable and many wanted out of their contract to look elsewhere for a better return for their product.

But intensive talks between Lactalis and the Milk Supply Association eventually brokered a deal acceptable to both parties.

Matt Friel, Lactalis Head of UK milk supply said: “We have been working on a range of opportunities with our farmers and the MSA. Committing to a minimum milk price for twelve months is a very different approach to the relationship between farmer, processor and end customers. It feels like it’s the right thing to do and because we can do it, we should do it. We are clear that farmers need to recover rising costs and plan ahead with greater certainty. This step helps address this requirement. With customer support we aim to build on this approach in future and will talk to farmers and the MSA about these opportunities as we develop them further.”

MSA chairman Rory Christie, who runs the substantial Dourie Farm dairy business outside Port William, added: “This is a unique deal and the only under-pinned price deal in the whole of the UK. Because of the way our price was going, I like others, was considering handing in my resignation. Now I am staying put. I am happy and confident. What has been agreed is not based on cost of production. It is market related, with Lactalis guaranteeing a minimum of 27.5p per litre, with the ability for the price to rise. Some producers have tendered their resignation and it’s hard to know whether this may make others change their mind. The deal has to be judged in its merits.”

Brakes Scotland has partnered with Lactalis McLelland as its local supplier of Cheddar in Scotland. The decision supports Brakes regional sourcing philosophy and rewards not only one of Stranraer’s largest employers, but also local farmers who work tirelessly to ensure consistent quality throughout the year.

When Archibald McLelland created a new kind of cheese back in 1850, little could he have imagined that over 150 years later, his philosophy would still remain at the heart of the cheddar today. Like then, highly experienced farmers, at the top of their game, continue to be paramount in the creation of McLelland Scottish Cheddar ranges with all the milk being sourced from families that have built knowledge and expertise, ensuring tradition is never forgotten. Most importantly, South West Scotland still remains the home of McLelland Scottish Cheddar brands, where the lush green grass, fertile soil and good grazing conditions, all help to create that distinctive taste and appearance for which the cheddar is known.

Lactalis McLelland’s long relationship with farmers and local communities is ultimately the secret to the success of the cheese. All farms supplying Lactalis McLelland are independently assessed by the Red Tractor Assured Dairy Scheme, to ensure high standards of animal welfare and production systems. It also means that they have 100% traceability throughout production. In addition, all farmers are part of the Milk Supply Association, which helps Lactalis to maintain strong working relationships between all parties.

Mark Taylor, Group MD for Lactalis McLelland is delighted that they have been chosen as Brakes’ supplier:

“We are extremely proud to partner with Brakes as their key supplier of Scottish Cheddar. Lactalis and our farmer suppliers really value long term customer partnerships. Everyone works hard to produce a great cheddar for consumers to enjoy and this is great recognition of that commitment. We very much look forward to building our business with Brakes.”

John McLintock, Operations Director for Brakes Scotland added “We set out to expand our product range in 2016 and specifically focused on our dairy offering. Ten months into the year and we now have a comprehensive dairy range - with the final focus on Scottish cheese. McLelland are a well-known company in Scotland with great Scottish roots and their classic block and grated cheese will be a welcome addition to our dairy range.

“We’re proud of the customer base we’ve built in Scotland, the teams we’ve invested in and the 400 Scottish products in our new Scottish brochure. We’re committed to growing our business in Scotland and look forward to continued success for our suppliers.”