Supermarkets surrender to farmers after milk price protest

Morrisons said it would also launch a “milk for farmers” cheese, which would cost 34p more than its standard cheese

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The Independent Online

The entire supermarket sector caved into mounting pressure from farmers and activists yesterday as three more grocers said they would increase the amount they paid dairy farmers for milk. Lidl, Aldi and Morrisons’ decision follows Asda’s earlier example.

Aldi and Lidl said they would pay a minimum of 28p per litre for milk from Monday while Morrisons will pay at least 26p per litre. They all previously paid an average of 23.66p per litre. Late on Thursday evening, Asda said it will start paying 28p a litre after all three supermarkets after activists brought cows into stores and cleared shelves of milk.

However, even though the four supermarkets have increased how much they will pay, it is still below production cost of 30p a litre, according to the National Farmers’ Union, meaning many farmers could still be selling milk at a loss.

Milk prices  at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer are independently set, based on UK production costs, so they will not pay less.

Morrisons said it would also launch a “milk for farmers” cheese, which would cost 34p more than its standard cheese and all the extra proceeds being handed to the farmers.

Bosses launched a premium milk earlier this week, which cost 10p a litre more than its standard milk with the extra cash going to farmers.

NFU President Meurig Raymond generally welcomed the changes from supermarkets.He said: “The NFU has been lobbying tirelessly for Asda to recognise the plight of the dairy industry, so we are pleased it has moved to support farmers in their hour of need.”

Rob Harrison, NFU national dairy chairman, who met with Aldi, said: “Aldi has shown that it supports the farming community and has developed sustainable agreements with its liquid milk suppliers, in addition to its existing strong commitments to the farmers of Britain in fresh meat and produce. We will continue conversations with Aldi as to its position on cheese and other dairy products.”

Tony Baines, managing director (buying) for Aldi said: “Aldi has wide ranging, long-term commitments to British farming and this new price agreement is the latest example of our support for the sector.”

Lidl UK’s buying director Paul Gibson said: “Lidl UK will continue to champion the British farming industry both locally and abroad through our large volume of exports, which give consumers right across Europe the opportunity to enjoy fresh British produce.”

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