With Covid-19 causing severe milk market turmoil, Arla Foods has revealed the processor drafted in farmers to drive its tankers as part of ’contingency’ measures to ensure the continuity of milk collection during the pandemic.
The dairy co-operative estimated that if 13 per cent of milk tanker collection drivers were off sick as a result of coronavirus, the company would struggle to fulfil its obligations to collect milk from its 2,400 farmer owners.
To avoid this potential decline in drivers, the processor trained 19 dairy farmers and 10 members of its agriculture team to provide a ‘back-up’ option for its logistics team if needed, which involved video and socially distanced training with tankers.
Arla’s agriculture director Graham Wilkinson said: “Arla’s farmers were asking what they could do to help the business and when we asked the elected farmers to help us with this challenge, there was no shortage of volunteers.
“Should there be a shortage in tanker drivers therefore, Arla would be able to use drivers from outside the industry with the newly trained farmers available to follow the tanker by car and manage the milk collection and quality checking aspects at farms in their region.”
The initiative has seen over 21,000 hours of coronavirus related training carried out by Arla over the last two months, which covered the collection process, health and safety procedures, collecting, labelling and testing the samples and insurance.
Arla farmer Carrie Burridge highlighted: “Using the technology to test samples and learning how many safety precautions are in place really surprised me, but it has definitely made me value tanker drivers even more."
Mr Wilkinson claimed the immediate risk had subsided but added the farmers and Arla’s agriculture team will ‘remain on hand to support Arla’s logistics team’ if needed.
For insight on the collection and processing of milk during Covid-19, click here.