GRAHAM'S THE Family Dairy has given six of its producers 12 months' notice that their milk will no longer be needed by the Bridge of Allan operation.

Dairy sector pundit Ian Potter commented that the termination of the contracts came as a 'huge blow' for the six involved, who are estimated to supply Graham's with around 12 million litres in total. It is understood that the affected producers are free to leave as soon as they want to – but are likely to see out their notice period given that their alternative buyer options are currently very limited.

Mr Potter also suggested that the criteria used to single out these unwanted producers included their 'attitude' to the company – referring to them as 'the awkward squad' – as well as their distance from the dairy, their milk quality and their 'ability to forecast accurately'.

Graham's managing director Robert Graham commented that the firm had needed to make some 'incredibly difficult decisions' to better balance out its milk supply with demand for its products, so that the rest of its producers could benefit in the long term.

"As a business and as a family of farmers, we are all trying to navigate ourselves as best we can through these unprecedented and incredibly challenging times," said Mr Graham.

"There has been a lot of dramatic change across the dairy industry and our business has felt these effects. As a result, we are having to restructure our business to bring us better into balance where milk supply matches demand," he said. "The cost of balancing milk supply versus demand for products is a significant cost that affects our whole business and all our farmers.

"We have a responsibility not only to the business but to all of our farmers to make sure that we are managing these balancing costs for our long term collective benefit," he insisted. "We are therefore having to make some incredibly difficult decisions to ensure that our milk supply base matches the requirements of the dairy. In view of these considerations we have had to end contracts with six of our 100 farmers across Scotland." Mr Graham confirmed that each had been given a 12 months’ notice period as from May 1, 2020, with the option to discuss an earlier exit date if they find another milk purchaser during this period.