Following successful field trials, Dairy Crest and First Milk have startedjoint milk collections across wide areas of England and Wales in a bid to save the once proudly held British tradition of door-step milk delivery.
The companies say that significant cost reductions have been achieved since the joint operationwent live in November by rationalising milk collection routes to combineboth Dairy Crest and First Milk suppliers on the same run.
The joint collection initiative began in East Anglia, where the twocompanies used the same haulier, Bulk Foods Transport, which now collectsmilk from Dairy Crest and First Milk suppliers on harmonised routes.
Joint collections were extended to West Wales and the M4/M5 corridors duringNovember 2002. The initiative now covers some 14,000 square miles andinvolves over 2,000 farms as well as five haulage contractors.
First Milk's chairman, John Duncan, commented: "This is an excellent exampleof the scope to reduce duplication and cost within the supply chain, as wellas a reflection of the strength of our relationship with Dairy Crest."
Dairy Crest's managing director of direct supplies, David Lattimore, stated:"By working in partnership we can deliver improved efficiencies for thedairy industry."
No depot closures have been announced, as the two companies' existingnetworks were complementary. Savings accrue from rationalising routes sothat each depot collects all suppliers to both businesses within a givenarea, therefore eliminating thousands of miles of overlapping tanker routes.
The farmers affected by the joint collection scheme have been kept informedof developments and are receiving the same level of service in milkcollection. The companies added that the initiative will not result in any change to the status offarmers, who will continue to be members of First Milk or suppliers to DairyCrest.
Individual farm samples continue to be taken daily, ensuring that both DairyCrest and First Milk can provide their customers and consumers with traceability for their quality milk supplies, the companies said.
Dairy Crest and First Milk will continue to analyse the results of theexisting initiatives and evaluate the potential of joint collection schemesin other areas. This, the company says, will enable the parties to optimise the transportefficiencies available within the dairy sector.