Three dairy companies interested in investing in the north-east

That was the message delivered to the region’s dairy farmers at a meeting earlier this week.

The meeting, which was organised by north-east economic development agency ONE and Aberdeenshire Council, follows detailed studies commissioned by the two organisations into the prospects for north-east dairying following Muller’s decision to close its Aberdeen milk factory in June.

Closure of the plant, which was the only outlet for milk in the region, has resulted in the bulk of the company’s 43 producers in Aberdeenshire and Angus having to pay a transport levy of 1.75p a litre to have their milk hauled south for processing.

ONE director of food, drink and agriculture, Peter Cook, said the identity of the three interested companies could not be revealed for commercial reasons.

He said ONE and Aberdeenshire Council would now help work up detailed business cases with the three companies.

“These will then be considered by a steering group, which can then put a final recommendation forward to the region’s dairy producers. Our intention is to reach this point by the end of March 2017,” added Mr Cook.

Councillor David Aitchinson said: “This is a positive first step to ensuring the continued economic viability of dairy farming in the north-east.”

NFU Scotland north-east regional chairman Roddy Catto, who runs a dairy farm at Hillhead of Muirton, Whitecairns, Aberdeen, said the region’s dairy farmers were fortunate to have the support of ONE and Aberdeenshire Council in funding the studies.

He said: “It’s encouraging to see that there is some hope out there and hopefully it will come to fruition.”

Earlier this year the Press and Journal launched a campaign to safeguard the future of north-east dairy farming. The Local Milk is Miles Better campaign sets out to drum up demand for local milk and help build the business case for a new milk processing factory to be built in the region.

At the moment all milk stocked in north-east supermarkets has travelled at least 100 miles before it reaches the shop shelves