First Milk to scale down operations at Campbeltown Creamery

Campbeltown Creamery.

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First Milk has announced that it plans to scale down operations at Campbeltown Creamery.

The farmer-owned co-operative put its creameries in Campbeltown and Arran up for sale in April 2018 as they ‘were not core to its business strategy for the future’ and this week announced the commencement of employee consultation about proposed changes at both sites.

Discussions with local Kintyre farmer members, with the active involvement of the Scottish Government, are ongoing which will hopefully conclude with the Campbeltown Creamery being owned by the local farmers. It is envisaged that the farmers will form a new co-operative who will operate the creamery independently of First Milk.

Due to the ongoing economic performance of the Campbeltown site, and in anticipation that the scale of the operation is likely to change under this new ownership, on Wednesday First Milk commenced consultation with colleagues at Campbeltown about proposals to scale down the operation.

James Barbour, chairman of the Kintyre milk producers working group, said: ‘First Milk has worked hard to secure a sustainable future for the Campbeltown Creamery over the last twelve months. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to secure an external buyer and yet we believe that it is important to retain processing capacity on Kintyre for the long-term security of the dairy farmers here. As a result, we are working together to try to secure the site for the future, although there is still considerable work to do to bring this to a conclusion.’

Despite significant effort over the last twelve months, it has not been possible to conclude the sale of the Arran site. As a result, First Milk has commenced employee consultation about its proposed intention to close the Arran Creamery.

Chairman of NFU Scotland’s milk committee and Kintyre farmer John Smith, of Drumalea, said: ‘The news coming out of Arran and Campbeltown is extremely disappointing, especially for the staff and dairy farmers who will be affected by the decision.

‘There has been a cloud of doubt hanging over both factories for the past 15 months, since First Milk announced their intention to offload the creameries in April 2018, and this decision is unfortunately the outcome.’