The Co-operative's long-awaited milk group has ­finally launched.

The Co-op's new dairy group is being operated by Robert Wiseman Dairies and comprises 230 British dairy farms, which supply liquid milk into the Co-op's stores. Each farmer receives a premium payment of 1.35ppl above the base price they already get from Wiseman.

As the Co-op was a major supporter of British agriculture, and The Co-operative Farms was Britain's largest farmer, it recognised its support should extend to the dairy sector, said Ed Reaney, the Co-op's category buyer for dairy. "Behind the scenes we undertook significant preparatory work and are delighted to get the scheme up and ­running," he said.

The Co-op is the latest retailer to set up a milk supply group that pays a premium above the price paid by processors. It follows lobbying by farmer organisations such as the NFU.