Co-operative and Morrisons raise premiums to dairy farmers

Journalists often focus on conflict, don’t they? Tucked in under a headline telling us there’s to be another night of blockades about milk prices, here’s the good news. Two of our major supermarket chains have announced increases in the premiums they pay at the farm gate.

Now, says Sky News, other supermarkets might agree to a voluntary code for contracts.

Co Op and Morrisons advertise themselves as socially responsible. Can they lead the bigger chains into paying dairy farmers more? I suppose we can hope for that. I’ve heard a few journalists remark that milk isn’t ‘price sensitive’, meaning that shoppers buy milk as a staple food and aren’t much influenced by variations in the retail price. Being a scientist I was drawn to the graphs in the Sky News article I’ve just linked to. To me, those graphs are stark. But I wonder how many people will see only the statement of ‘more blockades’ and think that this is just a silly tantrum.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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6 Responses to Co-operative and Morrisons raise premiums to dairy farmers

  1. I agree with you about what the reaction will be, I have just spent a while reading the Guardian comments section. I was shocked by the number of “If you are not good enough to make money at dairy farming, you should just get another job” comments. I found this link was handy
    http://www.fwi.co.uk/gr/milkprice.pdf because I did not know what the actual farm gate price was, although I was aware of the high profit taken by the supermarkets, and some of their buying practices from books like “Not on the label” and “Shopped”

  2. ellig123 says:

    The graphs there are potentially a bit misleading with the mixed use of pints/litres, don’t you think?

    Unfortunately there are a lot of other issues that aren’t taken into consideration by a lot of the media being pleased about increases, such as the fact that it’s liquid milk on the shelves that is being discussed and not products such as cheese, butter, etc. There’s progress there, I’d say, but it’s not the end of the story.

    • argylesock says:

      Yes the mixed units are confusing but the trends are easy to see on the graphs.

      Do you think the story would become even more confusing it other dairy products’ prices were reported in the same article? I think it might. But when this furore has died down, I hope we’ll see reports about the other dairy products. I’d like that reporting to consider how different it is when a product is relatively suitable for long-distance transport, eg cheese.

  3. alicephilippa says:

    Over the years I’ve had numerous arguments with workmates about farming issues. Ultimately their views, much like responses in the Guardian comments section, tended to be along the lines of ‘If farmers are no good at making a profit they shouldn’t be in farming’. There really does seem to be a complete lack of understanding by many (if not most) consumers of the effect the supermarkets have on agriculture. Not just on milk production but on all aspects of agriculture.

    It’s difficult for a producer to make a profit when the only outlets for the product refuse to pay even the cost of production. Milk production is just the tip of the iceberg. That special offer on, oh, steak? It’s not the supermarket that reduces it’s profit on the meat to pay for the offer. It’s the amount the farmer receives for his cattle that pays for the offer. It’s easy to pick similar examples from all types of food production, whether it’s meat, fruit, or vegetables.

    To, I suspect, most consumers the only thing that is important is how much they pay for food, and the lower the price the better.

  4. argylesock says:

    Good points. I think you’re right that the retail price is most people’s key concern.

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