Mission Milk Is Up And Running

UK - The NFU and the Women’s Institute have joined forces to ask what can be done to forge a strong, stable and profitable supply chain for British dairy farmers.
calendar icon 17 November 2010
clock icon 3 minute read
National Farmers Union

Mission Milk - the follow up to the successful Great Milk Debate campaign of 2007 - saw around 100 people, including MPs, policy makers, dairy farmers, retailers and processors, joining NFU President Peter Kendall in London for this debate.

Speakers at yesterday’s event was the National Federation of WI chairman Ruth Bond, Sainsbury’s Group Commercial Director Mike Coupe, and Neil Kennedy, Chief Executive of Milk Link and Andrew George MP. The shared goal of ensuring a thriving dairy sector in Britain will be top of the agenda.

NFU President Peter Kendall said: “While a great deal of progress has been made by retailers to establish dedicated relationships with the dairy farmers who supply them with liquid milk, there is a growing and worrying split in the price being paid to those farmers fortunate enough to obtain a retail contract and those who cannot. That’s why today’s discussion is so important – to stress that farmers still need consumers’ support.

“We’ve seen from the responses to the questions that I posed during the Great Milk Robbery investigation that retailers and processors are engaged in a battle over milk supply and promotions and deny that their actions will be felt by farmers. But when branded products are available in the supermarkets at buy one get two free, it’s a sign that the balance within this supply chain is all wrong.

The Mission Milk panel: “The bottom line is that all parts of the supply chain have a vested interest in maintaining a profitable, productive and healthy dairy industry in order to provide consumers with the products they want. This will build and maintain farmer confidence which is essential if we’re to encourage dairy farmers to re-invest in their businesses and sustain the current increase we are seeing in milk production.

“However it’s not just liquid milk that we need to concentrate on. It’s vital that both retailers and processors also demonstrate a commitment to dairy farmers that produce cheese. Retailers have seen significant increases in the gross margins they make on cheese with very little being paid back to the farmers.

"This must change, or we face a situation where dairy farmers are unable to produce the quality assured, high welfare British food that consumers expect to be able to buy.”

NFWI chair Ruth Bond said: “Since the NFU and WI last joined forces in 2007 much has been achieved for the British dairy farmer. However, much more still needs to be done, and we will be calling on retailers, processors and consumers to play their part.

“Supporting our British dairy farmers has never been more important. More and more dairy farmers are leaving the industry, which has caused a long term decline in milk production and low levels of investment on farms.There is a growing demand for British produce; local, quality, assured and traceable food, products that consumers can trust and support. And we all have a responsibility to ensure a profitable and sustainable British dairy industry is in place to meet this demand.”

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