What are retailers doing to support British dairy?

Back British Farming, Back British Dairy Farmers_24919

The UK dairy sector is facing a very real crisis, with many farmers receiving milk prices far lower than the cost of producing it.  Farm gate milk prices have fallen by 33.6% between March 2014 and March 2016.

The NFU is aware of some good work by a number of retailers establishing mechanisms to support farmers supplying them with liquid milk, and in some cases cheese, through sustainable pricing as well as giving consumers assurance of origin.

However, there is much more work to be done before we will be satisfied that retailers are really supporting British dairy farmers for the long term.

We are calling on all retailers to do more and have outlined below our key asks:

  • To continue supporting existing schemes, or establish a scheme that ensures a fair and sustainable price is being paid to supplying British dairy farmers
  • To expand schemes further than liquid milk – including cheese, yoghurt, butter and cream as well as flavoured milk and UHT offerings, ensuring these product supply chains are sustainable and paying a fair price.  
  • To make the provenance of British dairy products clearer for shoppers – ideally through displaying the Red Tractor and point of sale displays, publically showing their support for British dairy farmers.
  • Promote initiatives to increase consumption of dairy

Pint of milkWith the situation for dairy farmers becoming increasingly difficult, we need British retailers and other end users such as restaurants, food service businesses and food manufacturing to support the industry in order to secure the future supply of the high quality dairy consumers ask for.

Below is a basic outline of how British retailers are currently supporting British dairy farmers. The information is for ‘own-label’ supermarket products and is provided to us by the retailers – it does not include branded dairy products and cannot be verified by the NFU.


  • Fresh liquid milk is 100% British and is sourced from 650 members within the Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group (TSDG). Tesco these farmers a fair price based on the cost of production.
  • All cheese is 100% British with the exception of Tesco Value lines which are Irish.  Tesco pay a fair price to farmers for all British cheese sourced.  All country of origin is clear on packaging and specifies one origin.
  • Tesco own label butter is made with British milk
  • Tesco own label standard tier yoghurt is made using 100% British milk, with the exception of those with protected origins, including authentic Greek yoghurt and French Fromage Frais
  • Tesco single cream, double cream and extra thick double cream (150ml, 300ml, 600ml) products are supplied through TSDG and are therefore 100% British.


  • Fresh liquid milk is all British and sourced from 300 farmers who are members of Sainsbury’s Dairy Development Group (SDDG). These farmers are paid a price above the average cost of production.
  • All own label cheddar cheese is British with the exception of Canadian Cheddar. Approximately 50% of Sainsbury's brand cheddar is produced with milk from 88 farmers who form the Sainsburys Cheese Development Group
  • Own label butter is 100% British with the exception of Taste the Difference Beurre d’Isigny
  • Own label yoghurt is 100% British with the exception of French Set yoghurt and fromage frais
  • All own label cream is 100% British with the exception of Crème Fraiche d’Isigny


  • All fresh liquid milk is British where British farmers are paid a minimum floor price
  • Asda’s own label cheese lines are branded with “Made with British Milk”
  • Asda’s own label butter is made with 100% British milk
  • 85% British yoghurt, moving to 100% British in April 2017
  • Asda’s own label cream is made with 100% British milk


  • Liquid milk is 100% British and Morrisons pay a minimum price to their liquid milk suppliers.
  • Morrisons launched their Milk for Farmers range in 2015 which guarantees 10ppl, or 23p from every four pint bottle sold is paid back to their farmer suppliers (via the farmer co-operative Arla)
  • Morrisons UK indigenous cheeses are produced in the UK using 100% British milk, with the exception of some Irish promotional cheddar.
  • In 2015 Morrisons launched a Milk for Farmer Cheese range gives 10ppl, or 34p from every pack sold, back to farmers
  • All of Morrisons standard range butter is made with 100% British Milk
  • All of Morrisons own brand yoghurts, including Greek-style yoghurts, are made with 100% British milk
  • All of Morrisons cream is made with 100% British Milk

The Co-Operative:

  • Fresh liquid milk is 100% British. The Co-operative has a dedicated group of 204 dairy farmers who form the Co-operative Dairy Group, in conjunction with Muller Wiseman Dairies. The Co-operative pays a sustainable price back to farmers, using a pricing model based on cost of production and commodity prices.
  • Co-Operative source all own label cheddar cheese using 100% British milk. The price paid back to farmers is calculated on an average price of large and small processors across the UK.
  • All of Co-Operative block butters are manufactured in the UK with 100% British milk
  • All Co-Operative yoghurts use 100% British milk
  • All the milk used to make Co-Operative cream is taken from the Co-Operative’s dedicated group of farmers and is therefore 100% British.


  • All liquid milk is 100% British and comes from a dedicated group of 50 farmers. These farmers are paid a price, based on the cost of production.
  • All Waitrose own label cheddar is British, with the exception of its Irish and Canadian cheddar. Cheeses indigenous to the UK are made in the UK using British milk.
  • All Essential Waitrose butter is made using British milk.
  • All of Waitrose own-label yogurts are produced using British Milk, the only exception being four of its authentic Greek yogurts.
  • All Essential Waitrose cream is British and is exclusively sourced from their group of dedicated farmers
  • All British own-label products are sourced from Red Tractor assured dairy farms


  • 100% of Aldi fresh milk and UHT milk is British and from Red Tractor assured farms.  Aldi have said that they pay their farmers a minimum floor price on all liquid milk.      
  • All of Aldi’s Cheddar and other cheeses indigenous to Britain are produced in the UK with 100% British milk. These farmers also receive a minimum floor price
  • All of Aldi’s butter is made with 100% British milk
  • All of Aldi’s cream is made with 100% British milk
  • 50% of Aldi’s yoghurt is made with British milk, and the remaining 50% of Aldi’s yoghurt is made with French milk.

Marks & Spencer:

  • All M&S liquid milk is 100% British and is sourced from 38 farmers who work closely with M&S, with payment to those farmers based on the M&S ‘Milk Pledge Plus’, which has production costs built into it.
  • High volume lines of Cheddars are all made with British milk.
  • Own label block butters are made using 100% British milk.
  • Own label cream is made using 100% British milk.


  • 100% of Lidl’s fresh milk is British and from Red Tractor assured farms. Lidl have said they will pay their farmers a minimum floor price.
  • Lidl export British cheese to 26 countries.
  • Lidl has a pricing mechanism in place which it says is monitored regularly during contract period to reflect market fluctuations and to ensure that their farmers receive a sustainable market price.
  • Lidl’s own label butter is made using 100% British milk.


  • Iceland use 100% British milk in their cheese
  • Other sourcing policies are currently unknown

  • Posted by: DavidPosted on: 04/02/2015 14:03:12

    Comment: If the information from the supermarkets can not be verified what is the point of publishing this marketing material? As a consumer I want to know the facts not the sales pitch. I want to know the best place to buy my milk to support farmers. I wrote about my feelings here: https://forkingmad.uk/milk-crisis-what-can-i-do As I consumer I want do be able to do the right thing.
  • Posted by: Cliff&Elizabeth SpencePosted on: 09/02/2015 09:36:59

    Comment: We hear that Dairy Crest who are part of Muller group have dropped the price paid to farmers,as we have been getting milk at a huge cost thinking that we have helped the farming community survive we now wonder where we go now for paying a fair price for our British milk. C&E Spence
  • Posted by: Neil HowiePosted on: 25/05/2016 21:35:15

    Comment: The descriptions of each of the supermarkets' sourcing and price support policies for milk suggests a high proportion of UK production is being sold well. I believe the nation produced less milk in 2015/2016 than before the introduction of quota in 1984, yet we have a larger population consuming more dairy products.The average ex farm price current in Eire, an exporting nation ,is similar to that in the UK, but is much more evenly distributed, with most farmers getting close to the average. Can anybody explain why some of our farmers are getting so little for their milk, and how the milk which is leaving farms for way below the average price is being marketed? The nation needs milk, why are we so vulnerable to World commodity prices if all the big retailers are supporting their producers?

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