Galway farmers part of demo on liquid milk crux

Pat Murphy

GALWAY farmers took part in a supermarket protest yesterday in Portlaoise aimed at highlighting the ‘loss leader’ sales of milk across some of the major retail chains.

According to Galway IFA Chairman, Pat Murphy, the use of milk as a loss leader product to attract in more customers to the supermarkets was very worrying for suppliers.

“Milk supplied by Irish farmers for retail consumption is an absolutely first class food product that has to command a reasonable price in the supermarkets, if the suppliers hope to remain in business.

“It is regrettable that one of the supermakets has adopted this policy and this then sets off a chain reaction with their competitors. This is not the way to go if liquid milk suppliers are to stay in business,” said Pat Murphy.

Liquid milk is a lot more costly to produce over the course of a year than milk for manufacturing because of the need for a guaranteed supply during the far more expensive winter feeding period.

The liquid milk producers are paid a bonus for the four months of November, December, January and February – for the other eight months the price is on par with what’s paid for manufacturing milk.

“It’s a lot more attractive for dairy farmers to get out of liquid milk than to get into it. There is a 12 months commitment with liquid milk and you know that you’ll be working through every Christmas,” said Pat Murphy.

Meanwhile, IFA National Dairy Committee Chairman, Seán O’Leary, said that the recent decision by Arla Foods (one of the big players in milk processing across Europe) to increase their September milk price to 34.6c/l reflected the growing price increase trend.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.