Milk Link's cheese plant at Oswestry in Shropshire is among the first to benefit from £470,000 worth of Defra funding for milk industry benchmarking.

The grant is being managed by Dairy UK as part of a wider programme to promote best practice and raise efficiency in the industry, according to policy director Peter Dawson.

The Dairy UK programme uses a specially developed PROBE diagnostic tool, jointly developed by the London School of Economics and Comparison International.

It will compare processes at the dairy co-operative's Oswestry plant with benchmarks that have been drawn from a range of international companies. Managers at the plant will also be put through a masterclass developed by Toyota.

Although Milk Link is the first to benefit, a series of large and small processors is lined up for the programme over coming months, Dawson said.