The dairy has warned Scottish farmers a surge in milk production is ‘not sustainable and has significant environmental consequences’
Concerns have been raised over the mental health of farmers in Scotland, as Muller looks to tackle an oversupply of milk.
Muller has announced a review with its 230 Scottish suppliers to address the issue of a 25 per cent surge in milk production which was not supported by growth in the Scottish market for fresh milk products.
Rob Hutchison, milk supply and operations director at Muller Milk and Ingredients, said: “Fresh milk is loved and in 96 per cent of the nation’s fridges, but consumption is marginally down year on year.
“Production from Scottish farms who supply us however is up by 25 per cent since 2014.
“As a result, Müller is transporting 180 million litres per annum – equivalent to 33 litres of additional milk for every person in Scotland - to our dairies in England, where we can find a market for it.
“The financial and environmental cost of moving this volume of milk is substantial and we must work urgently with farmers who supply us and other industry stakeholders to review a range of measures to address this increasingly unsustainable situation both in the short and longer term.”
Muller said it would discuss the issue over the next month with the Muller Milk Group (MMG) farmer board and would also seek views from other industry stakeholders.
But with farmers already under significant financial pressure, Muller Milk Group chairman David Herdman raised concerns the news would impact farmers’ mental health.
“This news is going to do nothing to lighten the load on those guys,” he said.
“It is very easy for people to say you have to look at it like a business. But farming is not like many other businesses.”
He added his Scottish colleagues had made this ‘very clear’ to Muller. Mr Herdman said they had started to consult with Muller and had put forward counter-proposals, asking them to ‘spread the load around’ with concerns Muller Direct suppliers would be hardest hit.
“The price in comparison to retail aligned is behind and we do not need any more negative impact on those producers,” he said.
Mr Herdman added while overall production may have risen by 25 per cent during the period, some individual farmers will have remained static and he said these farmers did not deserve to be impacted.
MMG also stated it was regrettable Muller had only recently raised the issue as some members had been investing significantly.
A spokesperson for Muller Milk and Ingredients said: “Our milk supply team is there to provide support including input on the markets we serve.
“Other sources of information and trends for farmers include AHDB and independent advisors.
“The reality however, is that many have not approached us before pressing ahead with expansion.”
NFU Scotland milk committee chairman, John Smith said: “This announcement will be a real concern for all Muller producers in Scotland.
"Officeholders and policy staff at NFUS have already taken a number of calls from worried members.
“They can be reassured that, as a matter of urgency, NFUS will seek a discussion with Muller management at the earliest opportunity at which we will present their views and seek a better understanding of the short and long term strategy for the Muller supply chain in Scotland.”