Liq­uid milk pro­duc­ers seek fair­ness from re­tail­ers

Irish Examiner - - Finance -

Ir­ish farm­ers are urg­ing re­tail­ers to fol­low the ex­am­ple of France and pass back in­creased whole­sale prices to milk sup­pli­ers.

IFA pres­i­dent, Joe Healy, was speak­ing dur­ing a protest by liq­uid milk pro­duc­ers out­side Dunnes Stores and Aldi in Port­laoise, Co Laois.

Liq­uid milk pro­duc­ers are a spe­cial­ist group tra­di­tion­ally paid a pre­mium price to cover the ex­tra feed costs in­volved in pro­duc­ing milk in off-peak months to en­sure Ire­land’s year-round ac­cess to do­mes­tic milk sup­plies.

“Spe­cial­ist liq­uid milk pro­duc­ers, like all pri­mary fresh food pro­duc­ers, de­pend on be­ing able to make a rea­son­able in­come from the re­tail chain.

“This is some­thing that is be­ing recog­nised in Europe, with draft leg­is­la­tion on eq­uity in the food chain ex­pected next year, and French re­tail­ers cur­rently agree­ing to pass back in­creased whole­sale prices to farm­ers,” said Joe Healy.

The IFA leader said that in­stead of these short term, ill-thought out tac­tics, dairies and re­tail­ers should take a leaf out of their French coun­ter­parts’ book, by mak­ing a public com­mit­ment to pay an in­creased price within the chain that al­lows for farm­ers to make a rea­son­able liv­ing, cover their costs and pay them­selves a mod­est wage.

“Only this type of ap­proach will se­cure the sus­tain­abil­ity of lo­cally pro­duced, high-qual­ity, fresh milk for Ir­ish con­sumers for the long term,” said Mr The IFA says farm­ers are con­cerned that Dunnes Stores sale of dis­counted milk at 67c/l is de­gen­er­at­ing into a milk price war. It says this will un­der­mine fresh milk pro­duc­ers, with Aldi join­ing Dunnes this week.

“There is no such thing as cheap milk,” said Joe Healy.

“Fresh milk pro­duc­ers in­cur high costs and le­git­i­mately ex­pect to be able to cover their costs and make a rea­son­able in­come from their spe­cial­ist milk pro­duc­tion. Yet, ex­pe­ri­ence tells us that farm­ers al­ways come out the worst of these cyn­i­cal grabs for mar­ket share by re­tail­ers.

“Any ap­par­ent ben­e­fit for con­sumers is short­lived, with the se­cu­rity of yearHealy. round, lo­cal sup­plies of milk from freshly calved cows threat­ened by the ero­sion of mar­gins in the chain.”

IFA na­tional liq­uid milk chair­man John Finn said the IFA has met most dairies and re­tail­ers — in­clud­ing Dunnes Stores and Aldi — to dis­cuss the in­dus­try’s Milk Wise 2025 Strat­egy to pro­tect the sus­tain­abil­ity of fresh milk pro­duc­tion in the best in­ter­est of con­sumers.

IFA pres­i­dent Joe Healy leads the liq­uid milk pro­ducer protest out­side Dunne’s Stores and Aldi in Port­laoise.

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