The processor said it was looking to take a leadership role to fix the ‘broken’ liquid milk industry
Muller was looking to take a leadership role in transforming the liquid milk industry as it looks to become more efficient and sustainable for the future.
It was looking to build long term strategic partnerships with customers as it attempted to make its liquid supply chain sustainable and make itself more efficient.
The processor has announced plans to review its network of dairies as part of its £100m Project Darwin programme, and enter a logistics partnership with Muller Group sister company Culina Group.
The business will commence a 45 day statutory collective consultation process to assess current and future utilisation and capacity requirements at its network of six dairies and could not yet rule out any ‘necessary action’ such as closing a manufacturing site to bring capacity into line with customer requirements.
Patrick Muller, chief executive of Muller Milk and Ingredients (MMI), told Farmers Guardian it had to define who it was as its unique selling point, and it wanted to build relationships with customers who valued its high standards.
“That means customers who do not want that probably are not right with us,” he said.
“You cannot be everything to all men. You have to focus on where your strengths are.”
But he said new customers were coming to them after seeing dairy was ‘at the tipping point’ and wanting to be a part of what they were doing.
He added 90 per cent of customers’ reaction had been positive.
On whether this review would impact farmer suppliers, Mr Muller said it could not really be talked about in detail until the review was complete.
“The target is that it is not planned to lose any volume. That is not what we are trying to do.”
On the partnership with Culina, Mr Muller said it meant there were cost saving synergies and, due to Culina’s large UK logistics network, cutting down on the amount of empty lorries on the roads.
Culina Group will assume day to day management control of MMI Distribution from June 1. Tanker operations bringing milk from farms will continue to be run by MMI.
Mr Muller said they were being open and communicating with their farmers and their Muller Milk Group Board and he believed the farmers saw they were ‘doing the right thing’.
“We are leading in that sector to make it sustainable. They very much support that,” he said.
He added they had also been communicating with employees, and had received about 120 ideas from them which he went through, responded to and would take forward good ideas.
“That is one of the things I really like. People are very committed to the dairy industry and want to make it work,” he said.
“I am more than happy to get ideas from farmers on how we can improve.”