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Uttoxeter dairy farmers fear Tesco falling milk prices

By UttoxeterPostandTimes.3522974.UttoxeterPostandTimes  |  Posted: March 07, 2014

SL Feature on Uttoxeter - Lower Loxley Farm, David Brookes

SL Feature on Uttoxeter - Lower Loxley Farm, David Brookes

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TESCO’S decision to cut the price of milk is ‘appalling’ and will undoubtedly affect dairy farmers, a Uttoxeter milk price activist has said.

Lower Loxley dairy farmer and Staffordshire National Farmers’ Union (NFU) chairman David Brookes has accused Tesco of

devaluing the price of a valuable commodity, as it was revealed the supermarket giant will sell their four pint cartons of milk at £1, a reduction of 39 pence on the original price.

The prospect of a price war has caused concern across the dairy farming industry, with concern that major buyers could apply pressure so lower prices feed through to suppliers.

The Co-Operative, which has a branch in the Maltings, followed suit cutting the prices of its one-pint and two-pint milk, from 50p to 45p and from 89p to 85p.

However the convenience store said it would not follow Tesco’s move to £1 for four pints as this would encourage food waste.

Mr Brookes, who played a key role in the 2012 SOS Dairy campaign to see fairer dealings between farmers and dairy companies, said: “I am appalled by Tesco’s decision to cut their price of four pints of milk to £1.

“The price which farmers can get per unit of milk will be dampened by Tesco’s announcement as this will push prices down across the market as other supermarkets follow suit.

“Tesco is the number one retailer for milk, and the fact it is following the example of budget stores like Aldi and Farmfoods is concerning.

“They will be using it as a loss leader but it is taking money out of the system and reducing the prices that hard-working dairy farmers can get for their milk.

“It’s not supporting sustainable food production.”

Mr Brookes, who is also the Staffordshire National Farming Union county chairman has also warned of the long-term health effects of undervaluing dairy as a commodity.

He said: “Though the prices are higher than they were two years ago at the time of the SOS Dairy campaign, our costs have risen proportionately.

“The new price doesn’t guarantee to cover the costs of production to farmers and I believe that dairy has been under-valued for far too long, with all its health benefits.

“I’ve been told the strategy Tesco are supporting is long-term and I have already been in touch to voice my complaints.

“There’s not much more we can do about it at the moment.”

Tesco, which has branches in Dovefields Retail Park and New Road, said that cutting the cost of milk in its stores would have ‘no impact’ on what it pays to the 650 dairy farmers who supply the business. Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, tweeted he thought the price cut was ‘short-sighted’.

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