UK – A food retailer has stepped forward and underlined the importance of sustainable farmgate milk pricing to Britain’s farmers.
Supermaket chain Sainsbury’s has said the dairy crisis has “tarred all retailers with the same brush” and urged shoppers to look where they can buy milk at a “fair price”.
After many discounters have come under fire over low milk prices, Paul Mills Hicks, Food Commerical Director at Sainburys said: “The heartening fact is that customers have a positive choice – they can choose to buy 100 per cent British milk from a retailer that guarantees a fair price for British producers, or they can shop elsewhere.
“At Sainsbury’s, the price we pay our farmers is based on a premium to their production costs.”
This stance has been singled out by the National Farmers Union after an advert appeared in many national newspapers advertising the price paid to farmers by supermarkets, rather than the retail price paid by consumers.
Sainsburys appeared in the top three on farmgate price for four pints with Tesco and Marks and Spencer, each paying over 70 pence. In the list paying significantly less were Morrisons, Lidl, Aldi, ASDA and Iceland, with Waitrose not confirming its price.
In a press release, the NFU said: “Like some other retailers, Sainsbury’s support their liquid milk supplying farmers by paying a milk price above the cost of production.
"We support this investment in the dairy sector but would also like to see supermarkets commit to ensuring that dairy farmers also receive a fair price for British butter, cheese and yogurt.
“Sainsbury’s should share the work they’re doing within their Dairy Development Group with consumers to demonstrate the excellent work that farmers across the dairy sector are doing every day of the year.”
Mr Mills Hicks stated that, although Sainbury’s prices “must remain competitive”, when prices are dropped to match competitors, the cost is not passed on to farmers.
He added: “The challenge for us and the dairy industry is to ensure that customers understand that they can support the industry if they choose to do so. If they treat all retailers alike, commentators make that choice more difficult.”