The agreement hands Robert Wiseman the right to supply all milk sold in stores supplied by Co-operative Retail Trading Group, instead of the current figure of 75 per cent.Around 350 British dairy farmers are expected to benefit from the dedicated supply scheme, by receiving a premium for supplying some 363 million litres of milk a year to around 4,000 stores.
Tim Hurrell, Chief Executive of the Group’s food business, said: “We are delighted to be fulfilling the commitment made to farmers at the height of the Somerfield integration.
“In partnership with our processor, we will set up a dedicated group of dairy farmers from the Wiseman Milk Partnership, and we will develop long-term, transparent relationships.
“The foundation for this will be our Food Ethical Policy and the DEFRA ‘dairy roadmap’, with the focus on animal welfare, environmental stewardship and carbon footprint reduction.”
He added: “Wiseman has been a valued supplier to The Co-operative for many years, and has consistently demonstrated high service levels and has proved to pay, on average, a higher standard farm gate milk price to British dairy farmers than any other major liquid milk processor.
“Wiseman is focused on sustainability and its flagship site at Bridgwater is one of the most efficient and environmentally advanced dairies in the world."
Billy Keane, Managing Director at Wiseman Dairies, commented: “We are delighted the Co-operative Group has decided to set up a dedicated group of dairy farmers drawn from the Wiseman Milk Partnership who will benefit from a premium farm gate milk price.
“We have invested heavily to create a network of dairies focused on fresh milk and worked hard to build a reputation for quality and service.”