ONE of the major players in the county’s dairy industry is to cut its farmgate milk price.

First Milk, owners of the Lake District Creamery at Aspatria, has announced a 0.45p/litre price cut for its members from November.

The move will cut the liquid standard litre price from 27.45p/litre to 27p/litre while the manufacturing standard litre drops from 28.35p/litre to 27.9p/litre.

Around 250 Cumbrian producers supply the farmer-owned co-operative at either Aspatria or through a group supplying Nestlé at Dalston.

Both revised rates include the member premium, or so-called 13th payment, which for the current year will be 0.25p/litre.

The bonus payment is paid to members who are fully invested in the business and is pro-rata adjusted, based on members achieving their capital target.

It was introduced at 0.25p/litre in April this year, with members due to receive the first top-up payment after 12 months, in April 2020. An increase to 0.5p/litre from April 2021 was announced just 48 hours before the November price cut was released.

The new rate means that a fully paid-up member producing a million litres a year will see their payment of £2,500 in 2020 double to £5,000 in April 2021.

Announcing the premium rise just two days before the price cut, First Milk said the increased payment reflected the improving financial position of the company and recognised and rewarded the loyalty of long-standing members.

However, notification of the 0.45p/litre price cut was accompanied by a statement from Jim Baird, vice-chairman and farmer director, which said: “The market has continued to weaken across a number of dairy commodities and we now need to reflect these lower returns in our milk price.

“Of course, any reduction is never good, and we remain focused on doing all we can to minimise any further negative impact on milk price going forward.”

First Milk is in the process of streamlining its operations, which will include the sale of Scottish creameries.

A group of Scottish farmers have launched a bid to buy Campbeltown Creamery, producer of Mull of Kintyre cheddar, from First Milk.

The company had held its liquid and manufacturing prices steady in October for the fourth consecutive month for its 800 members before the November cut, despite price cuts from some other processors.

First Milk said the increased payment reflected the improving financial position of the company and recognised and rewarded the loyalty of long-standing members.

Commenting on the announcement, chief executive Shelagh Hancock said: “First Milk continues to make good progress, with positive growth and solid trading performance. As a result of this improving position, I am pleased to confirm our intention to increase our member premium to 0.5ppl from April 2020, recognising and rewarding the loyalty of our long-standing members.”

Meanwhile, Meadow Foods, one of the UK’s leading supplier of dairy-based ingredients to the food industry, has announced the acquisition of Nimbus Foods Limited, a leading innovator and manufacturer of high-quality inclusions, decorations and toppings for the food industry, which is based in Dolgellau, Wales.

Meadow Foods’ chief executive Mark Chantler said: “Nimbus fits perfectly with our growth strategy of pushing further into the value-added ingredients space.

“This acquisition will further diversify our portfolio and strengthen our position as a leading supplier of confectionery ingredients. There is a large customer overlap and we continue to grow with the demands of our customers who are looking for strategic partners that can offer unique ingredients solutions.”