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Lactalis McLelland has moved to reassure retailers over Christmas cheese and yoghurt supplies amid reports of serious distribution delays.

The UK subsidiary of French giant Lactalis switched its logistics partner from Culina to NFT at the start of December.

Following the switch, industry sources reported serious disruption, with supply to retailers of brands such as Seriously Strong, Ski and Munch Bunch down to about a third of normal levels.

However, Lactalis McLelland MD Mark Taylor this week told The Grocer the problems had now been resolved. Taylor put the disruption down to an accident on the M1, which led to it being shut for 18 hours on 2 December. He insisted service was now back to normal, with “excellent service levels” to most customers.

“This road traffic accident unfortunately coincided with the transition of our transport operations to NFT,” he said. “Between then and now we have worked successfully with NFT and our customers to manage and minimise any impacts.”

NFT sales and marketing director Dale Fiddy also blamed the disruption on the accident, which occurred “directly outside” one of the company’s distribution centres. He admitted this had had a “negative impact” at the time, but stressed operations had now “fully recovered”.

Looking forward, Taylor said he expected the new partnership with NFT would help Lactalis better serve its retail customers. He admitted the dairy company’s supply chain was “probably more complex than most”, with products made across the EU, but stressed: “Even with this additional complexity we still manage to maintain optimum product quality on shelf and consistent service levels at one of the highest levels of any food business supplying in the UK.”