Milk firm defends rising delivery prices

A DAIRY firm that delivers milk to thousands of customers across the region has defended its decision to increase the cost of a pint by 4p.

John Howard

A DAIRY firm that delivers milk to thousands of customers across the region has defended its decision to increase the cost of a pint by 4p.

Dairy Crest, which delivers to 1.6million households nationally, is increasing the price of pints delivered to doorsteps from Monday.

The cost of an average pint will rise between 53p to 55p to 57p to 59p - although about 2,000 of the firm's milkmen are franchisees and are free to choose what they charge.

The price is generally more expensive than pints bought from supermarkets - at Asda in Stowmarket yesterday prices ranged from 40p to 45p a pint depending on the type of milk - but the firm has urged customers to keep supporting their local milkmen.

Mike Sheldon, managing director (household) for Dairy Crest, has written to customers explaining the reasons for the rise.

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He said: “We increased our prices in 2007 so that we could use that additional money to encourage farmers to increase the supply of British milk and to secure it for you.

“All of the 2007 increase was passed to our supplying farmers, none of it went towards other increased costs within our business.

“You will have noticed rising fuel prices at the forecourts and been told of higher costs by your gas and electricity suppliers.

“These increased costs, coupled with increased packaging costs and increased employment costs, have strongly impacted on our business.

“We have tried our best to absorb as many of these inflationary costs as possible, but unfortunately despite our best efforts, we cannot absorb them all.

“Having delayed as long as we could, we have now have to pass some of these costs on to you.

“Many of our customers appreciate the role of our milkmen in the local comunities in which they serve and how hard they work to provide you with the best possible service.

“At this time of rising costs we hope that you will understand our reasons for this price increase and you will continue to support your milkman.”

But antique dealer Anthony Keer, a father-of-four from Stoke Ash, near Eye, said: “My wife Jenny and I are all for supporting local business, but with four young boys we get through about 42 pints every week.

“At first we wanted to support the local dairy, especially being a local businessman myself. But times are hard and it's a big part of our money going out every year.

“We decided even before this latest price rise that it cost too much to have our milk delivered and now I imagine other families will also sadly be forced into reconsidering where they get their milk.

“We save hundreds of pounds by going to the supermarket, we just have to go where it is cheaper. We have to be sensible.”