Why are retailers involved?
Over half the milk produced by our dairy cows is sold as fresh liquid milk. Most of this volume is sold at retail. Another 27% of UK milk is processed into cheese, which again is mainly sold at retail in the UK. Around 85% of the milk that is produced by our dairy cows is processed and consumed in the UK. Most of these products are purchased at retail. So retailers have a crucial role in the dairy supply chain for milk and cheese, but also for other dairy products including butter, yoghurt, cream and flavoured milk.
Is there more they could do?
Yes; some retailers have put in place pricing mechanisms that support their liquid milk supplying farmers and pay a price above the cost of production – these include Tesco, Sainsburys, the Co-operative, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.
There are also smaller schemes for farmers supplying milk for cheese at Tesco and Sainsburys. We are urging other retailers (and food service) to put in place mechanisms that pay a fair and sustainable price to their farmer suppliers. Furthermore, all retailers could use the Red Tractor label on front of pack on own-label products to help consumers support British dairy farmers.
What share of the retail price does the farmer receive?
Last year, in June, British dairy farmers received 68% of the price a consumer pays for liquid milk, this June they are receiving 55%. Over the same period the retail price for four pints of fresh milk has fallen 7% but farmgate milk price has fallen 26%.
Are there other factors?
On price, yes, factors such as exchange rates, competitiveness with imports and weather impact the price farmers receive. These factors are, however, out of the control of farmers and consumers.
What can I do to help?
Consumers can help by looking for the Red Tractor on all dairy products, and asking about the provenance of cheese, butter and yoghurt. British dairy farmers are proud to produce fresh, nutritious dairy products every day of the year.