Belfast Telegraph

Dairy firm wins contract to supply Co-op's milk

By Holly Williams

Robert Wiseman Dairies is to supply all of the Co-op's own-branded milk under a new deal that will see 350 farmers become dedicated suppliers for the chain.

Britain's fifth largest supermarket has handed a two-year contract to the dairy giant, which will mean Glasgow-based Robert Wiseman supplies 100% of the chain's own-brand milk from August, up from 75% currently.

Around 350 of Wiseman's dairy farmers will form a new dedicated supply chain for the Co-op, receiving a premium rate for providing some 363 million litres of milk a year to around 4,000 stores.

The move comes as the Co-op finishes integrating its Somerfield acquisition, made two years ago.

It previously took three quarters of its own-brand milk from Wiseman and the remainder from Dairy Crest.

Dairy Crest and fellow dairy firm Arla lost out in the tender process, but the Co-op said Dairy Crest remains a major supplier of dairy products for its stores. Wiseman also supplies milk to Tesco.

The Co-op said it had always intended to set up one dedicated milk supply scheme once it completed the Somerfield integration.

It added the deal will go above and beyond premium prices paid for milk, with the firm also committed to setting clear standards in animal welfare, minimising environmental impact and encouraging bio-diversity on the farms selected for the scheme.

Tim Hurrell, chief executive of the Co-op's food business, said it will develop "long-term, transparent relationships" with the farmers.