dairy cows

Sainsbury’s is to widen its milk supply base to include two new processors from next year after a review of its Dairy Development Group (SDDG).

The retailer will add Medina and Tomlinsons Dairies to its existing SDDG suppliers Arla and Müller Milk & Ingredients from July 2017, with milk from Medina supplied to stores in the south of England and milk from Tomlinsons distributed to stores in Wales and parts of England.

Sainsbury’s said it intended to keep membership of its aligned pool of dairy farmers at about the existing 270 mark, though it is understood some existing suppliers could leave the SDDG as part of the restructure.

“Our intention is to remain unchanged across our current SDDG farmers,” a spokeswoman said, but some would be “given the choice to move processor to remain part of the SDDG”, she added.

The changes come after a competitive tender of suppliers, designed to “ensure customers are offered the best quality and value”, Sainsbury’s said, and will run until 2020.

Tomlinsons Dairies has been based in Wrexham, North Wales, since the late 1970s, and supplies milk to more than 300 retail outlets across Wales, the Midlands and the North West of England, producing more than 25 million litres of fresh milk a year from dairy farms across North East Wales.

Medina will supply Sainsbury’s with milk from its Watsons dairy in Hampshire, and was established in 1980 by Sardar Hussain and his family.

The supplier has since grown to become the largest independent milk processor in the UK, and further increased its capacity by securing a toll-processing agreement at Müller’s Severnside dairy in Gloucestershire, as part of the deal that saw Müller acquire Dairy Crest’s liquid milk division last year.