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Farmers empty supermarket shelves in milk price protest

11:55 05 August 2015

Milk on a supermarket shelf. Photo: Antony Kelly

Milk on a supermarket shelf. Photo: Antony Kelly

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2005

Groups of dairy farmers have been emptying milk from supermarket shelves across the country in protest at the price paid for milk.

The protest, dubbed the Milk Trolley Challenge, sees protesters removing all cartons of milk from shops including Morrisons and Lidl and either paying for it and taking it away or dumping it at the checkout.

Arla, Britain’s biggest milk co-operative, has announced a price cut of 0.8p per litre – taking the standard litre price to 23.01p for its UK members.

Farmers say it costs between 30p and 32p to produce each litre of milk, according to British dairy organisation AHDB Dairy.

Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), said: “The market situation in dairy, lamb and many other products is driving farming families to a desperate state with returns from the market failing to cover costs of production.

“Farmers have worked very hard to gain the respect and support of the public for great British food - now farmers simply want and need a fair return for years’ of investment.

“Given the current situation some farmers have been driven to take direct action; the NFU supports protests that have a proper target and a clear objective.

“However, we believe that the best way for farmers to get a fairer return would be for consumers to demand British food.

“Our survey work has shown that 85% of people want to see retailers selling more British food. Now is not the time to alienate our loyal customers.”

Figures published by AHDB Dairy show the average UK farmgate price was 24.06p per litre in May, a decrease of 25.4% of the amount paid to farmers in May last year.

A spokesman said: “Anecdotally, farmers are putting the costs of production at around 30/32 pence per litre, which demonstrates that for some, the price they receive will not cover what it costs them to produce the milk.”

Darren Blackhurst, Morrisons’ group commercial director, said reduced global demand had created an oversupply of British milk, creating “difficult conditions” for many dairy farmers.

“At a constructive meeting on Wednesday with the NFU Dairy Board chairman, we confirmed that Morrisons is not accepting any further cost price decreases from our suppliers driven by the falling farm gate milk price,” he added.

A spokesman for Lidl said the supermarket worked closely with farm assurance schemes such as Red Tractor and RSPCA Freedom Food to champion British farming.

“Naturally, we are concerned about the challenges faced by British farmers currently as a result of volatility in global market conditions,” she added.

“As such, we have pricing mechanisms in place which are monitored at regular intervals during the contract period to reflect market fluctuations and to ensure that our farmers continue to be paid a fair and accurate market price.

“Our cost prices are in no way linked to our retail prices and any reductions in retail prices are absorbed by Lidl.”

8 comments

  • I don't think British farmers understand the concept of "solidarity". They should take a leaf out of the French farmers' book. But perhaps without the burning tyres.

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    catharthis

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

  • We the Great British Public shouldn't be stingy about paying for food. But, we have been cynically brainwashed and manipulated to place too much importance on buying the latest in Shiny Things. Also, there are very, very many people who genuinely have to look for the cheapest price for food. (They don't have Range Rovers.)

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    catharthis

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

  • It seems that if it is not pig farmers, beef farmers or someone moaning about wheat prices then it is the turn of dairy farmers. We do not hear anything when they are making thousands of pounds profit and buying the latest range rover. If they worked as a self employed tradesman they would really suffer from the ups and downs of life. Tradesmen in the building industry quite often go from boom to bust but do not behave like spoiled children and throw their tools out of the pram. They take advice from Kipling and "start again at their beginnings and never breath a word of their loss " We love you farmers but you must meet with triumph and disaster.

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    easylec

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

  • Farmers do seem to be their own worst enemies. Constantly pleading poverty; constantly appearing the exact opposite. As far as milk is concerned, there's a global oversupply of dairy products, so prices are bound to drop. Welcome to the real world, farmers!

    Report this comment

    bedouin

    Wednesday, August 5, 2015

  • I agree with beerlover. Massive subsidies, grants to convert disused buildings into other things, inheritance tax exemptions, and the chance to flog your land for housing at massive profit if you feel you've had enough. No wonder they all drive new Range Rovers around here. I'm sure not all are in the same position, but farmers have a knack of being happy to quietly take the money when it suits, only to create a lot of noise like spoilt children when for once things don't go their way. I struggle to find sympathy to be honest.

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    Suffolk Boy

    Wednesday, August 5, 2015

  • "dumping it at the checkout." What a thoroughly obnoxious thing to do. This won't hurt the supermarkets, but it WILL make extra work and hassle for already over-worked supermarket staff who are mostly earning the Minimum Wage or not much more. And let's not forget that what farmers get paid for the milk they produce is only a small part of their income. The massive subsidies they get from the taxpayer simply for "being farmers" more than makes up for any loss on milk production. And it means that people like me, who don't drink the stuff, are having to pay for people who do.

    Report this comment

    beerlover

    Wednesday, August 5, 2015

  • Have I understood this correctly? I just went to the Arla web site and it states that "According to the most recent DEFRA figures, the average UK farmgate price stood at 23.66ppl in June 2015". So it costs farmers 30p to produce a litre of milk, but Arla are selling milk to supermarkets etc at 23.66p per litre? And the retailers, who haven't produced a thing, then add a whopping profit margin of over 100% to the selling price of that milk? (100% is an absolute minimum, i.e Tesco are doing 2 litres for £2 at the moment). Pull the udder one.

    Report this comment

    Geoff Stevenson

    Wednesday, August 5, 2015

  • Here, here. Supermarkets have been using milk as a 'loss leader' for years and have had a total disregard for British dairy farmers. Time to pay them the correct price. On average more than two dairy farms go out of business every week and suicide rates amongst farmers are ridiculously high.

    Report this comment

    G

    Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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