Pinta price war puts 10,000 doorstep milkmen at risk

AN ESTIMATED 10,000 doorstep milkmen could lose their jobs in the next few years, according to the National Dairymen's Association. They are being squeezed out by the supermarkets' relentless price war, which has undercut the 40p doorstep pinta by nearly half.

David Moxon, the NDA's spokesman, said: "I would be very disappointed if the doorstep share of the domestic milk market fell below 30 per cent in the next five years, compared with around 50 per cent now."

But even that estimate, which is regarded as conservative by City analysts, would cut the present 25,000 milkmen in the UK to about 15,000.

These dismal predictions have emerged days before what are expected to be disastrous year-end results and more job losses at Britain's two biggest milk producers: Northern Foods, owner of Express Dairies, and Unigate.

According to the latest issue of the Earnings Guide, analysts expect that on Tuesday Northern will announce a drop in profits from pounds 157.2m to pounds 119.5m for the year to March. Unigate, reporting tomorrow, will show a fall of only pounds 7m to pounds 106m because the collapse in its milk operations will have been shielded by a highly profitable baby foods business.

In March, Northern axed 2,200 jobs at its dairies in the North, Midlands and London. At the same time, Unigate closed two dairies, two distribution centres, and a dairy products factory at Totnes in Devon, losing 324 jobs. The company warned that further rationalisation would follow the year's results.

With wholesale milk prices up 11 per cent and prices to the public rising nearly as much, Unigate's doorstep sales have slumped 16 per cent and the decline is accelerating. On Friday, Park Foods, the hamper business, said that its sales had been affected as it relied heavily on milkmen to sell its hampers.

The main reason for the price rises has been the deregulation of the Milk Marketing Board and its replacement last November with Milk Marque.

Christopher Haskins, Northern's chairman, has attacked "foolhardy competition between dairy companies''.

Northern is likely to reveal a large exceptional charge for the year, to meet the cost of the redundancies and closures. Last week, the company signalled the start of diversification away from milk by buying Green Isle, an Irish frozen foods business. Unigate has been moving into fats, yoghurts and desserts.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back