Milk Link has unveiled plans to sell its Staplemead Creamery to French food and dairy specialist Andros in a move that would mark the company’s exit from fresh dairy ingredients. The farmer-owned co-op announced this week it was in detailed talks with Andros over a possible sale. Although still subject to due diligence, the company anticipated the deal would be completed by the end of this month.

The deal represented the final phase of Milk Link’s long-term ingredients strategy, based upon the demands of its major food manufacturing customers, Milk Link said.

“It will allow us to leverage our Westbury Dairies joint venture by focusing all our SMP and butter ingredients’ production there and result in increased efficiencies,” said chief executive Neil Kennedy.

Andros, which makes fruit, dairy, confectionery and frozen desserts products, already has a foothold in the English retail market with its branded Bonne Maman desserts, in addition to supplying retailer own labels. However, the acquisition would provide the company with its first UK production facility. Andros intended to carry on Staplemead’s dairy processing tradition with a major investment at the plant, said Milk Link.

The sale of Staplemead to Andros would also mark the end of the existing agreement in place between Arla Foods UK and Milk Link to pack products produced there. However, Andros would enter a new co-packing agreement with Arla following the sale, under which Andros would produce creams, custards and flavoured milks for Arla.