Monday, 6 July 2009

Why Are Farmers being paid less When retail prices are higher in the UK?

I read in the Telegraph newspaper this weekend that the price in the retail shops (read Supermarkets)for milk & cheese has gone up 14% & 9% repectively in the last year in the United Kingdom. 4 pints of Semi-Skimmed Milk is now £1.53 compared to £1.34 12 months ago. Mature Cheddar cheese has gone up from £3.52/400g to £3.85/400g.
How can this be when the milk prices to UK dairy farmers has dropped nearly 15%???
The average farm gate price in EU has dropped 28% in the last year.WHY HAS THE FARM GATE PRICE DROPPED?
We can bemoan Supermarket power & lack of real government concern but its easy to blame someone else.Milk in the UK is treated like a commodity not only by the Supermarkets but farmers too. This is disgraceful.

Milk cartons in UK stores must be the most boring items on the shelves.No excitement.No real link with real dairy farmers.No colour. No imagination.Milk is not sexy in UK stores.

A recent visit to canada highlighted how far the British dairy industry has fallen behind in milk packaging.See photos from Canada where there was a huge range of exciting milks on sale(these photos were taken in Quebec city)Milk has been made sexy & exciting by the producers.

Dont underestimate people power in changing the consumers perception of milk.I suggest you visit a really enterprising website set up by some university students in the USA.Not only have they a great website but they are fully exploring the use of Twitter Facebook & Myspace to target young teenage consumers. The new internet technologies of sites like Twitter are very powerful. We need to be using Twitter to communicate the benefits of grass fed milk to our consumers. If we dont you can be sure that those who are anti milk & dairy products will. In fact a search on Twitter using "milk" will quickly show you that there are organisations promoting milk & almost as many organisations who are anti milk & dairy products. This is the new age of people'd better get used to it. What are YOU going to do?

Milk can be exciting & well promoted just check out the "Got Milk" website from the Californian Milk Processor Board
I've just returned from France where dairy farmers are mounting protests about the very same issue...retail prices have increased whereas dairy farmers farm gate prices have fallen. Are we going to fight back in the UK? Are we going to get angry & protest? Or are we just going to get rolled over again?

1 comment:

  1. Tom,
    The supermarkets would argue they are paying a better price ie Tesco and Waitrose. Milk for cheese is being undermined by the market imported Irish and Kiwi cheddar. Butter and powder are low . We get product switch into liquid particularly middle ground which undermines the liquid premium. Cashflow is an issue for cheese makers. For once the europeans are worse off than us. The french are breaking EU laws to fix the market. DEpending how much product is store. Prices should improve next year.