Ten years is a hell of a long time in dairy; you’ll rarely see a cheese which is more than two or three years matured (although you might see a cheesemaker who is).

Ten years ago, in November 2003, we reported that the Westbury milk plant (Wiltshire) was to be leased to Westbury Dairies - a joint venture between Dairy Farmers of Britain, First Milk and Milk Link - following the collapse of the plant’s previous owners, United Milk.

Ten years on and DFB is no more, Milk Link is merged with Arla and First Milk today announced a “strategic partnership” with Adams Foods that will see Adams cut, pack and market 50,000 tonnes of cheese produced annually by First Milk. And the length of the deal? A minimum of 10 years, of course.

Some industry experts claim the deal is a testament to the ability of companies to change with the times.

“This strategic partnership epitomises the fact that the UK dairy industry is willing to embrace change and adaptability as companies endeavour to deliver their best for consumers and stakeholders,” was the line given by Dr Judith Bryans, chief executive of Dairy UK this morning.

Others will view it as the clever construction of a cheese pile to rival that created by last year’s Arla-Milk Link mega-merger.

Whatever the reason, it provides a live case study of the increasingly vertical integration taking place across the UK food industry at present, and likely to increase in the future.

So, 10 years from now, where will Adams and First Milk be?

Adams Foods’ CEO Ian Toal says there’s nothing further to say at the moment, but after 10 years is up, “who knows?”

And First Milk CEO Kate Allum is similarly non-committal. “We’re feeling like we’ve done a good job to get to this point,” she says.

Who knows what the UK dairy industry will look like, but here’s hoping for that 10-year matured Cheddar!