What should I do if my milk collections are delayed or cancelled?

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

The non-collection of milk is an issue for dairy farmers since it may reduce your income or result in milk being thrown away.

If your milk collection has been disrupted, there are two things for you to think about – the customer base of your milk buyer and contingency planning by your milk buyer in the event of labour shortages.

  • Firstly, if your milk buyer’s sales are mainly into supermarkets, it is highly likely that they will require your milk to meet orders. If your milk buyer mainly supplies foodservice or export markets, they will be working hard to move sales into other markets with high demand in the short term, including supermarkets
  • Secondly, your milk buyer will have put in place contingency plans in the event that some of their staff – e.g. tanker drivers or processing staff – contract coronavirus

We would encourage you to speak to your milk buyer to:

a) understand their customer base and split between supermarkets and foodservice/other markets and;

b) ensure that they keep you updated on their contingency planning should they experience labour shortages as a result of coronavirus.

Alternative outlets for your milk

Should you be informed by your milk buyer that milk collections are going to be reduced, you could explore alternative outlets for the milk but opportunities may be limited and regard must be given to contractual agreements with your milk buyer and restrictions on the sale of raw milk. One alternative may be to look into the possibility of anaerobic digestion (AD) plants having capacity for surplus milk. Initial points to consider are:

  • Check if there are any milk supply contract implications due to potentially ‘supplying’ milk to an alternative ‘market’
  • AD plants would need to be permitted with the Environment Agency to accept waste materials and milk would be considered waste when it leaves the dairy farm
  • Milk may be considered an animal by-product so additional regulations would apply if the digester was on a food production site i.e a farm.
  • Ad hoc loads of milk into a digester could upset the digestion

For advice, contact Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA)

Should disposal of milk become necessary view our guidance on What do I do if I need to dispose of milk on farm or see Government Guidance .

Related content

Disposing milk on farm