Guernsey Dairy milk crate shortage creates further challenges
18 May 2023
Guernsey Dairy's ongoing problem with unreturned milk crates has reached a point resulting in the business considering spending £30,000 on their replacement.
An appeal was sent out to islanders and businesses last summer resulting in approximately 1,000 crates being returned. However, many of these had been damaged and are therefore unusable.
Since then, the situation has got worse.
"We are now nearly 3,000 milk crates short which makes planning weekend and Bank Holiday production processes extremely challenging. It also affects the distribution chain," said Dave Domaille, production manager at Guernsey Dairy.
"The situation has reached a point where we are now insisting that our customers return the empty crates supplied to them before we can fulfil their next order. This is obviously impacting their businesses too as many retail outlets use the crates to store milk. We simply don't have the surplus stock to operate differently. This is an ongoing issue and is impacting the Dairy operationally and financially."
Many of the distinct blue and orange milk crates carry a message saying: "Property of Guernsey Dairy. Unlawful possession is an offence."
It is believed some crates are being used for purposes other than for transporting milk with the problem extending across the Bailiwick. The Dairy needs them to be returned to avoid having to invest tens of thousands of pounds on their replacement.
Each crate costs the Dairy around £15 to replace - a cost that has gone up considerably over the past 12 months. They are used to make up orders for milk distributors and are often used to deliver to restaurants, hotels, shops, and supermarkets.
"Each milk crate makes thousands of trips to and from shops with some lasting more than 20 years," said Mr Domaille. "They are extremely strong and durable when allowed to do their job and are not removed from the milk delivery system for other purposes."
The Dairy issued an appeal in 2018, 2020 and again in 2022 and as a result more than 1,000 crates were returned each time.
The crates remain the property of Guernsey Dairy. Islanders can return crates by leaving them carefully inside the Dairy's main gate on the left-hand side of the entrance by the bike parking.
"If anyone has seen them while they are out and about, please can you get in touch by calling 01481 227777 and we will go and pick them up," said Mr Domaille.