There are growing signs in the UK and Irish Republic that large corporate concerns are increasingly uncomfortable with the margins they can make on commodity products like butter, cheese and skimmed milk powder. Look across the Irish Sea, where Golden Vale ceo Jim Murphy is asking farmers to buy back the butter and cheese plants because they are holding back the rest of the (branded) business Such uneasiness offers one possible explanation for Unigate's long debated decision to finally quit high volume commodity manufacturing for the lush pastures of a branded business. The demands of shareholders for ever larger dividends cannot be thwarted, especially when their share certificates are their sole interest in the business. But when the shareholders are also the producers, and their holding in the company is directly linked to the payments they receive for their output, the dividend is not the only return on the business. The future of United Milk's venture remains to be seen, but there is no doubting its shareholders' commitment to the business. {{PROVISIONS }}