First Milk improves total returns to its farmer members

The dairy co-op has increased its turnover and profit despite a volatile market bringing ‘challenging circumstances’

First Milk’s annual results for the year ending 31 March show increased turnover and stable profit compared with last year, with a higher pay out to farmer members of the co-op. 

The farmer owned co-operative’s turnover is up by 38% to £456 million, compared to £331m in 2022, while its operating profit remains at £5.1m, the same as last year. 

With the average member milk price increasing by 14.4ppl, an additional £105m was paid out to members this year. The member premium, an extra payment distributed to full members of the co-op, remained at 0.5ppl, resulting in an average £5,200 premium pay out to members.

The year also saw First Milk achieving B Corp status, as well receiving a King’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. The report adds that First Milk members are implementing regenerative practices on a further 7% of their land, compared with last year.

CEO Shelagh Hancock said: “The last year has been tumultuous, with a roller coaster ride on milk prices and energy costs, creating challenges across the whole dairy supply chain, from farm to consumer. Yet, while these massively changing market dynamics have been challenging, the value we have in our secure contractual relationships meant that we were able to maximise the milk price paid to members as quickly as possible.

“Despite the volatile market conditions, our cheese business has continued to grow, we have completed a major investment at our Haverfordwest Creamery, and we have continued to progress our regenerative approach, receiving external acknowledgement of our progress through B Corp certification and the King’s Award for Sustainable Development. I am confident that we are on the right path and that growing recognition of our approach to regeneration will help to differentiate our offer and help us to deliver our vision of enriching life every day to secure the future.”

Towards the end of the year First Milk updated its brand, which it says reflects its collaboration and co-operative values.

Chair Chris Thomas said in the report: “In challenging circumstances, the benefits of collaboration also become clearer. Working together in a co-operative provides strength and resilience and I am confident that we will thrive moving forward, delivering our vision of enriching life every day to secure the future.”