First Milk publishes annual report and financials

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

First Milk said it is continuing to strengthen its milk price.
First Milk said it is continuing to strengthen its milk price.

Related tags Milk Dairy Cheese First milk

UK dairy cooperative First Milk has published its annual report and accounts for the year ending March 31, 2020.

First Milk said it is continuing to strengthen its milk price, while delivering growth in turnover, operating profit and net assets, as well as a reduction in net debt, further reinforcing its financial stability.

Group turnover rose by 4% to £282.8m ($354.7m), while operating profit was up 4% to £7.5m ($9.4m).  Net debt fell by 20% to £33.1m ($41.5m), and net assets increased by 25% to £39.8m ($49.9m).

Last year first Milk launched its First4Milk program, which outlined a range of commitments the company set out to meet by 2025. The company has since launched its First4Milk Pledge – a broader commitment to sustainable dairy.

The cooperative achieved an 11% reduction in CO2​ emissions year on year, which is 56% of the way to its 2025 targets. It also delivered an 11% reduction food waste and 12% improvement in energy efficiency.

It also completed a re-financing deal with Wells Fargo, extending its lending facilities to July 2024.

The company also closed its Campbeltown and Arran creameries in Scotland during 2019 after failing to find a buyer for the facilities.

Commenting on the results, chief executive, Shelagh Hancock, said, “The year ending 31 March 2020 saw us deliver business growth and development, further strengthening our financial position, whilst continuing to return value to our farmer members, who own the business. We have also launched our First4Milk Pledge – a broad commitment to sustainable dairy and a celebration of the leading standards on our members’ farms.

“Despite the uncertainties around the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and with Brexit looming, First Milk is well-placed for the future, as a business that has strong collaborative partnerships and the scale to be relevant in the marketplace, whilst remaining agile and adaptable. Our vision for the future remains resolute – we are working together to deliver dairy prosperity.”

First Milk produces Cheddar, Red Leicester and Double Gloucester - the majority of which is sold through its partner, Ornua. It also exports cheese to more than 26 countries.

In addition to cheese, the company produces bulk butter, cream and whey proteins, as well as supplying milk to dairy manufacturers and processors across the UK.

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