The price of a pint of milk

It’s the question journalists love to ask politicians, but the price of a pint of milk is about more than how ‘in touch’ politicians are with normal life. It is about paying our dairy farmers a fair price or risk bankrupting them and drinking horrid foreign-import UHT milk forever more.

Stop milking our dairy farmers cartoon

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The issue has been highlighted recently in protests staged by farmers against milk processing firms Arla, Dairy Crest and Muller/Wiseman, who were set to cut the price paid to dairy farmers to 25p per litre (ppl) and make it impossible for dairy farmers (for whom it costs 30ppl just to produce the stuff) to continue operating.

Supermarkets – in particular Morrisons, ASDA, Lidl, Iceland, Farmfoods and The Co-operative Group – also came under fire after it emerged that, unlike rivals Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, who pay 30p a litre or more for their milk, they too were going to cut prices (again) to way below the cost of production.

The good news is that that public pressure has, in this instance, effected some change. In the last week, Arla, Dairy Crest and Wiseman have all announced that they will reverse plans to cut the price paid to farmers to just 25p per litre and instead pay 27p. Meanwhile, Morrisons has agreed to pay 31ppl, ASDA will now pay 29.5ppl and The Co-op will pay 29ppl. Aldi and Lidl have also increased the price they will pay by 2ppl.

Lait uht

What we'll be drinking if we don't support our dairy farmers.

While it’s encouraging that these suppliers and retailers have been shamed into backing down on their price cuts, there’s one thing I can’t quite work out. If it costs 30p to produce something and it’s being bought for 30p (or just over), that still doesn’t leave much (if any) profit, does it? And if a business isn’t making any profit, then surely it isn’t a sustainable business model?

Granted, I’m not particularly business minded, but I would quite happily pay a bit more for my milk given the choice. If a few extra pence a week ensured the survival of Britain’s dairy farms and guaranteed that I would never have to drink any of that filthy long-life stuff they have in France, it would be money well spent.


If you think dairy farmers should be paid more for their milk, you can sign a petition here.

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