UK - UK supermarket chain Morrisons has unveiled a new milk brand, in attempts to appease farmers after protests over low prices paid to farmers.
The four-pint bottles of milk will cost an extra 10 pence, with this extra money intended to go directly to dairy farmers in the Arla co-operative.
The move follows talks with farming organisations including the NFU yesterday, and a series of demonstrations in Morrisons branches over the last two weeks.
The new brand “Morrisons Milk for Farmers” will be launched in the autumn and is aimed at shoppers who want to directly support dairy farmers. It will sit alongside Morrisons standard-priced own brand milk in the dairy aisle.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “This is a welcome first step. We need Morrisons to make sure there is plenty of resource available to promote this product. It must also be displayed prominently in-store.
"We have also had discussions with Morrisons about how it can introduce further initiatives to support dairy, including cheese, butter and yoghurt.
"We will continue to urge Morrisons and all retailers to ensure that farmers from all sectors who supply their food get a fair price.”
Helping hard-working farmers
Morrisons’ Corporate Services Director Martyn Jones said: “We recognise that the current market for liquid milk is impacting on hard-working dairy farmers and their families.
"We want to reassure the industry that the retail price we charge for Morrisons milk reflects the highly competitive retail market. It is not linked to the price we pay our milk suppliers.
“We want to offer practical help by launching a range of 4-pint milk at a retail premium of 10p per litre, all of which will be passed back directly to dairy farmers. We will stock this product in all our stores, offering our customers the choice to support dairy farmers directly.”
Morrisons also decided to give more details of how it pays for milk from its majority supplier Arla. The farming unions have been calling for greater transparency on prices paid to farmers.
Martyn Jones said: “We also want to clarify that our current three year contract with Arla, who supply the majority of our milk, uses a cost model that automatically adjusts the price that we pay for milk, based on a combination of the independently set farmgate price and other commodities such as diesel and plastics that influence the cost of milk.
“We can confirm that we have asked our milk suppliers not to pass on further decreases in the current farmgate price to us, but to share any benefit with the dairy farmer instead.”
Consumer support on Twitter
Meanwhile, consumers have taken to Twitter to express their support for British dairy farmers, using the hashtags #paymoreformilk and #supportbritishfarmers.
Many of the messages back the idea of paying more at supermarket tills for dairy products.
NFU Dairy Board Chairman, Rob Harrison, said: "Shoppers have been telling us, as well as independent studies, that they are willing to pay more for milk and today’s announcement from Morrisons will enable them to do just that."
He continued: “Now is the time to back British farming and we need to see Morrisons customers choosing to spend just a few pence extra on milk, in order to ensure this nutritious, high quality, British produce stays on the shelves for years to come.”
Discussions to continue
Further discussions between farming groups and Morrisons are expected to take place soon.
Mr Harrison said: "In the coming days we will continue to have discussions with Morrison’s about how they can introduce further initiatives to support dairy, including with cheese and yoghurt."
Chairman of lobby group Farmers For Action (FFA), David Handley, said in a statement on the group's Facebook page: "FFA welcome this announcement but it does not go anywhere near far enough and we have told Morrisons in no uncertain terms that all their dairy category products have to return a sustainable price to British dairy farmers.
"To that end we have agreed to reconvene today's meetings by end of this week to allow the representatives of Morrisons, who attended today, to deliver our message it to their Board."
In the meantime Mr Handley asked members of the organisation to refrain from further protests against Morrisons, but said that it was important for safely managed protests to continue to keep up the pressure on other retailers.
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TheCattleSite News Desk