Müller Milk & Ingredients (MMI) has confirmed that it will halt production at its Foston dairy in Derbyshire, which is expected to result in the loss of 223 permanent jobs.

With operations likely to cease by the end of the year, the company’s production will be absorbed by other MMI dairies so that most dairy suppliers will be unaffected. MMI will be in contact with the small number of farmers that are located in areas too far away from these other dairies to discuss future options for their milk.

The decision came after a 45-day review of the dairy network, which examined factory utilisation in the wake of declining consumption of fresh milk and changes in retailing.

During the review, Foston dairy was identified as an at-risk unit due to its size, its inability to absorb production volume from other dairies, the current level of utilisation and geographical position relative to customers.

As part of the consultation, discussions were held with employees, unions and other employee representatives. The company said that it will support those affected over the wind-down period.

MMI’s dairy network review was part of MMI’s Project Darwin, which aims to secure a sustainable future for the business through cost reduction and margin improvement.

The programme involves a review of MMI’s operations, logistics, back office and people organisation to simplify the business, cut costs and increase customer focus and accountability.

Müller Milk & Ingredients chief executive Patrick Müller said: “We fully recognise that this decision will be devastating for our employees at Foston, but if we are to have any prospect of building a fresh milk business which is sustainable in the short and longer term, we need to make significant changes to reduce our costs.

“Wherever possible, we will offer our colleagues opportunities to relocate within our network, and we will do everything we possibly can to support those who do not wish to relocate or for whom there are no roles.”

Müller UK & Ireland comprises Müller Milk & Ingredients, Müller Yogurt & Desserts, and Milk & More.