Bute creamery set to close
First Milk announces plans to close the cheese-making plant in Rothesay with the loss of around 19 jobs.
A creamery on the Isle of Bute is set to close after 40 years of cheese-making on the island.
First Milk announced plans to end production at the Rothesay creamery and the loss of around 19 jobs.
Union chiefs said it would "mark a sad day for food and farming" on the island.
The company blames a decline in the number of dairy farmers on the island for the proposed closure and end of production of the Isle of Bute cheese brand.
The Paisley-based company proposes to transport the milk, supplied by all 14 dairy farmers on the island, across to the Scottish mainland.
NFU Scotland president Jim McLaren said: “Securing fair returns from the cheese market in recent times has been very difficult for any cheese maker.
"This proposal to close a long established creamery highlights that even high value, branded product, such as the Isle of Bute cheddar, has struggled to generate viable returns for First Milk or its farmers.
“Those buyers who continually screw down the prices paid for a quality fresh product like cheese, while often taking the opportunity to extend their own margins, need to wake up to the impact that such policies can wreak on more remote milk fields, such as that on the Isle of Bute."
A 30-day consultation period over the proposed closure of the Townhead creamery is set to begin next week.
Kate Allum, executive director for cheese at First Milk said: “The creamery is losing money and therefore it impacts the returns we can pass back to our farmer members.
“Despite our sales team working hard to secure a profitable customer base for cheese produced at the site, the creamery is severely under-utilised which means that the cost of making cheese on Bute is much more expensive in comparison with many other creameries in the UK.
"Having assessed all our options, we believe that stopping production at the creamery is the best route to protect the returns we can pass back to our farmer members.”
First Milk, which has 550 members in Scotland, also operates creameries on the Mull of Kintyre at Campbeltown and on the Isle of Arran.