The decision by one of the country’s biggest dairy processors to freeze the price it pays to farmers for milk “beggars belief”, the National Farmers’ Union said.
Müller has announced that it is holding its September base milk price at 18.66 pence per litre (ppl) for its Muller Milk Group and 18ppl for the Direct Milk group, despite “extremely positive” market signals for UK milk prices.
Michael Oakes, the NFU’s dairy board chairman, said Müller’s non-aligned suppliers - estimated at around a third of its 1,900 farmer suppliers - would be frustrated not to benefit from signs of positive price movements after two years of downturn.
The Global Dairy Trade Price Index rose by 6.6 per cent this week.
Other processors have raised prices, including Dairy Crest which is increasing its September milk price by 1ppl.
Mr Oakes said: “We have heard Müller state at various conferences this year that it wants to be the biggest and best milk buyer in the UK but this latest milk price news beggars belief.
“Yes, its farm gate milk price remains competitive but this is only due to the continuing support of retailers with their minimum farmgate pricing mechanism, currently paying around 3ppl.”
A spokesman for Müller claimed the company had delivered a stable and competitive milk price for farmers throughout the last two years, unlike some of its rivals, and added: “Whilst we agree with our Farmer Board that the markets are showing positive signals, we have a different view on when this can be translated into milk price. We are optimistic for the future and hopeful that we might see stronger returns for our business and the farmers who supply us soon.”