Müller has refused to rule out a move into branded butter in the UK, as it starts building the country’s largest butter plant.

The German dairy giant’s UK CEO, Ronald Kers, announced this week the company was building a £17m butter production facility at its UK base in Market Drayton, Shropshire, which would be able to handle the 90,000 tonnes of cream produced by the Müller Wiseman group in the UK and Ireland every year and produce about 45,000 tonnes of butter.

The new plant is expected to initially produce primarily commodity butter - including for export markets - but a spokesman said a move into branded butter was also possible. “We wouldn’t rule out anything,” he said.

If Müller were to launch a branded butter, it would go head-to-head with Arla and Dairy Crest, whose Lurpak, Anchor and Country Life brands lead the UK butter market [Nielsen MAT/The Grocer Top Products Survey 2012].

In its home market of Germany, Müller sells branded butter under its Weihenstephan and Sachsenmilch brands.

Müller’s UK butter plant will be operational by autumn 2013.