Seven First Milk members have been appointed to the group and were selected for their range of commercial experience. Three are from Wales, two from England and two from Scotland.
The move comes ahead of a change to the co-op's board later this year that will cut three of the six elected farmer directors and replace them with three directors from the new advisory group. "My main rationale for this initiative was a desire to be able to look around the boardroom and see a team of people with broad commercial experience who are coming up with constructive ideas to improve the returns we are making," said chairman Bill Mustoe.
The new advisory group includes Jim Baird, who has a Masters in business admin and a BSc in agriculture and has worked at NFU Mutual and DairyCo. He is joined by Nigel Evans, who has studied the dairy industry globally and has established property businesses abroad.
Other member of the group are David Gravell, who has experience in property investment; Mark James, who owns a Herefordshire dairy and winery; Glyn Jones, who owns bottled water company Princes Gate Spring Water and runs an organic dairy farm; Gary Mitchell, who has a background in arable and beef production as well as dairy; and Simon Weaver, who runs an artisan cheese enterprise on his farm and supplies 300 Sainsbury's stores.