Price pledge offers leading milk prices to suppliers

Eric and Edward Booth, Wigglesworth Hall Farm, North Yorkshire
Eric and Edward Booth, Wigglesworth Hall Farm, North Yorkshire
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retailer Booths has promised to consistently pay its dairy farmers a higher price for supplying milk than any of its competitors.

The food and drinks chain, which has outlets in Ilkley, Ripon and Settle, has begun stocking a new ‘fair milk’ product which replaces all Booths own label milk and sees farmers paid the highest supermarket price of 35.5p per litre - a price set according to the latest market data.

The chain sells six million litres of milk per year across its 29 stores.

Company chairman Edwin Booth said that Booths was able to offer the market leading rates after long negotiations with its milk processor, Muller Wiseman.

“As dairy farmers are under pressure, we guarantee to pay our farmers the highest market price for every pint of milk we sell,” Mr Booth said.

“Paying the highest market price means family farms are able to keep going, invest in the future and spend more time and money looking after their herds to ensure they produce great quality milk.”

The chain has pledged to regularly review the price it pays to its farmers for fresh liquid milk using data collected by an independent price comparison consultancy, milkprices.com. The consultancy monitors the farmgate prices of the major UK supermarkets.

Four farms supply milk to Booths, including one in North Yorkshire. The others are in Garstang, Lancashire, Kendal and near Crewe.

Yorkshire suppliers Eric and Edward Booth, who are of no relation to the retailer, run a herd of 200 Hosltein Friesian cattle at Wigglesworth Hall Farm near Settle.

Edward Booth said the price promise gave him reassurance for the future.

“It gives us the confidence to continue moving forward with our business and to make investments and improvements on the farm. This will ensure the highest possible animal welfare and environmental standards continue to be met and help us maintain a diverse balance of farming and wildlife in this beautiful part of the upper Ribble Valley.”

There is scope for further farms to benefit from the price promise scheme as Booths has plans to open six new stores over the next five years.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) welcomed the supermarket’s commitment to pay a higher price to farmers.

Laurie Norris, the NFU’s regional dairy adviser, said: “It is right that a supermarket wants to pay a fair price to its dairy suppliers and this will be great news for those lucky farmers involved with the Booths’ initiative.

“Receiving the best price in the market place will ensure those businesses can invest long term in buildings, machinery and infrastructure, ultimately to improve efficiency, standards of animal welfare and the wildlife habitats on their farms.

“While we don’t have exact information about how the output of these four farms compares to the total volume of milk sold as fresh liquid milk or dairy products through Booths stores, this deal represents an important commitment by them to ensure a sustainable milk price for farmers.”