SUPERMARKET chain Morrisons has announced it is raising the shelf price of its milk in a move to support dairy farmers, but it was unwilling to disclose how much of the increase will be passed on to farmers.
Morrisons shoppers will now pay £1 instead of 89p for a standard four pint carton of milk, and £1.23 for the same quantity of the supermarket’s Milk For Farmers brand, up from £1.12.
The chain’s dairy director Rick Bourne said customers are now prepared to pay more for milk to support struggling dairy farmers.
But while Morrisons said it was also increasing the price it pays to dairy farmers it is unclear just how much more farmers will receive. A spokesman for the retailer told The Yorkshire Post that the information was “commercially sensitive”.
All liquid milk supplied to Morrisons comes from British farms via deals with Leeds-based dairy processor Arla and Dairy Crest which is based in Surrey. Arla is this month paying its on-account farmers 23.04 pence per litre (ppl) of milk, while Dairy Crest farmer suppliers get around 23.3ppl.
Mr Bourne said: “We believe that customers are now ready to pay a little extra to support the dairy sector. Combined with the launch of Milk for Farmers range, which is now nearly three times more popular than Evian in our stores, we are doing our bit to support the dairy industry at this difficult time.”
Even though the financial benefits to farmers have not been made public, Morrisons decision to raise both its retail and farm gate prices for liquid milk was praised by the National Farmers’ Union, whose dairy board chairman Rob Harrison challenged other retailers to follow suit.
Mr Harrison said: “There are still a few retailers languishing behind on the support they provide to guarantee high quality British dairy products every day of the year.”
The Yorkshire Post’s Clearly British campaign, which has been backed by the NFU, is leading call for more support for British farmers producing milk to be used in cheese, yoghurt, butter, cream and other dairy products.
Weak EU labelling rules and only a voluntary code to demand good practice, means imported dairy products can easily be mistaken as British on the shelves, making it hard for shoppers to buy British with confidence.
Mr Harrisons added: “With only half our total milk volume going into liquid milk we need to focus on adding value and supporting farmers producing milk for other dairy products. A real issue, as seen by the recent farmgate price drops from a number of cheddar producers, is cheese.
“We need to arrest the falling consumption of British cheese and we urge retailers and food service to do their bit in promoting this vital part of the sector in the run up to Christmas and into 2016.”
To sign the Clearly British petition urging retailers, food processors, restaurants, hotels and caterers to clearly label dairy products according to where the milk used is from, visit yorkshirepost.co.uk/farming
FARMERS BRAND ‘NOT MISLEADING’
Morrisons’ Milk For Farmers was launched in October and sees farmers paid an extra 23p per four pint carton sold through suppliers Arla.
Arla said it would benefit dairy farmers’ income by an extra £5m this year but the range, which is labelled with a Union flag, was criticised when Arla admitted that all its revenue is shared equally across its European farmer suppliers. Morrisons disagreed that the labelling is misleading saying all fresh milk it receives from Arla is sourced from British farmers and that the Union flag denotes that the milk is British - so too the Red Tractor logo on the packaging - while British farmers are benefitting from similar schemes run by other retailers in mainland Europe.