Five reasons to support our Clearly British campaign

Dairy cattle. (S)

Dairy cattle. (S)

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The Yorkshire Post’s Clearly British campaign is calling on retailers, food processors and the wider food industry to provide unambiguous labelling on all dairy products. So why back the campaign by signing our online petition?

British farmers need our support

At the root of our campaign is a desire to help people to do more to support British dairy farmers, who are facing their most desperate circumstances for a generation.

Up to three Yorkshire dairy farmers are quitting the industry on average every single month.

By buying products made with their milk we can drive up demand for cheese, butter, yoghurt and other dairy products made with milk only sourced from cows in Britain.

A sharp decline in average farm gate milk prices has been fuelled by the withdrawal of China and Russia from the export market. The average price paid to the farmer per litre of milk in February 2014 was 33.95p - now, it is 24.23p. Dairy farmers have lost out on as much as £100,000 in 12 months because of the price fall, with any price below 30p said to be a smaller return than is necessary to cover the farmer’s cost of producing the milk in the first place.

Current labelling is confusing

Under current EU rules, dairy products can be labelled as produced in whichever country they were processed last rather than according to where the milk is actually from.

An oval-shaped label known as ‘the health mark’ adds to the confusion. This label can state UK, but this only indicates where the product was processed or packaged, not where the raw ingredients are from.

Lobbying to change the EU’s rules have failed so far. The European Commission rejected mandatory country of origin labelling on dairy products earlier this year.

Farming leaders and UK government have lobbied hard for the compulsory rules but a report published by the Commission in May suggested that financial factors were partly the reason why mandatory origin labelling was not, in its view, appropriate for dairy products EU-wide.

Voluntary rules aren’t working

Retailers have made strides to improve labelling but it is clear that a voluntary labelling code drawn up by retailers, food processors and hospitality groups in 2010 does not go far enough as dairy imports are increasing.

Shoppers must be able to make an informed decision at a glance and so there is room too for improvement online where it is not typically possible to view the entire packaging of a product and any appropriate labels.

Choice for shoppers has never been more diverse

Some 60 per cent of yoghurt consumed in this country is imported, so too 40 per cent of cheese and 30 per cent of butter. Without clear labels to state the milk’s origins, the task of selecting a British product potentially gets harder and harder as the nation’s reliance on imports continues to grow.

Help us apply pressure to make a difference

Only by making our voices heard can we encourage the food and retail industries to react and label dairy products clearer.

According to a recent YouGov survey, 85 per cent of people in Yorkshire believe it is important to buy locally sourced produce so stand up for clear dairy labels to back British farmers by signing our online petition, found here.

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