For immediate release: 31st May 2016

SALMOND RESPONDS AS MULLER ANNOUNCE NORTH-EAST DAIRY CLOSURE

MP for Gordon, Alex Salmond, has responded to Muller’s announcement that they are to wind down production at their North East Dairy at Tullos.

The decision will affect 225 jobs, and comes as Muller prepare to centralise their dairy production with a £15m upgrade to their Bellshill plant in North Lanarkshire.

43 North East farmers are contracted to supply Muller, and those who continue face a conditional transport charge payment to send their produce to the new plant. Farmers who discontinue their working relationship with Muller will serve a 12 month notice period.

A meeting was previously held at Thainstone on May 6 to discuss alternative strategies to Muller’s proposal which was attended by economic development agency, One North East (ONE), Mr Salmond, farming representatives and Muller executives.

A central part of the meeting involved discussions relating to a potential new creamery in the North East, with ONE set to complete a feasibility study, which Muller agreed to support, related to the proposal.

Mr Salmond MP, reacting to the Muller decision on closure said:

"This is a sad if not unexpected decision from Muller. I deeply regret that they have refused to defer their decision even for a few extra weeks to properly consider the results of the feasibility study on an alternative dairy operation for the North East of Scotland.
"The impact will be felt by the workers in Aberdeen losing their jobs, the milk farmers in the North East facing further financial penalties and by the consumers who now will be offered milk transported hundreds of miles to be processed and then hundreds of more miles back to be sold. 
"I wish the famers' group preparing the study on an alternative dairy well in their deliberations and will continue to support their efforts. However, today Muller effectively turned their backs on the North East of Scotland. They should not be surprised if the North East turns their backs on Muller."

ENDS
 
Notes to editors
 
A press release, issued by NFUS following the meeting at Thainstone can be found below. 
 
NORTH EAST GROUP MEETS TO DISCUSS MILK PRODUCTION FUTURE
 
A meeting took place yesterday (Thursday May 12th) at Thainstone involving Alex Salmond MP,  Jean McLean and Roddy Catto from the steering group representing North East dairy producers and representatives from Opportunity North East(ONE), a private sector led body, focused on ensuring a sustainable economic future for north-east Scotland. 
The Group seeks to develop a feasibility study looking at an option to build on local milk volumes, and consider a processing facility to produce a variety of dairy products with local provenance. This work will be led by Peter Cook from ONE.
Müller Milk & Ingredients, currently consulting on the closure of the milk processing facility at Tullos in Aberdeen, was invited to attend.
Roddy Catto, representing the steering group said: “We had an open and frank discussion and Müller contributed expertise from an operational , commercial and marketing perspective. 
“We appreciate the support given to us by local MP’s, particularly Alex Salmond. In addition we value the support provided by ONE and their willingness to undertake the feasibility study, using experienced professionals in the food and farming sectors.
Alex Salmond MP said: “"The meeting at Thainstone was useful and Muller’s agreement to supply data to aid in the production of a feasibility study conducted by ONE was a positive contribution which will help us to understand the potential viability of a new dairy in the area. My parliamentary colleagues and I will continue to work closely with everyone involved to achieve the best possible solution to this situation for the dairy industry here in the North East.”

A spokesman for Müller Milk & Ingredients said: “At yesterday’s meeting we provided specialists in business strategy, operations, commercial and agriculture to engage with the group, discuss their suggestions and to answer questions on our proposals. We agreed to provide information and data to support the proposed feasibility study and in the event that the decision is taken to wind down operations at the Aberdeen dairy, we will maintain links should this proposed plant come to fruition and as a result require a supply of milk from local farms.”

"The 45 day consultation on our Scottish dairies network will continue until 18th May. At that point we will take sufficient time to evaluate our findings before arriving at any decision relating to the Aberdeen dairy.”