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Retailers’ Strategy on Fresh Milk Driving Farmers Out of Business

Phantom creameries and dairies being used by Lidl and Aldi to mislead consumers

The IFA President Tim Cullinan has criticised retailers Aldi and Lidl for their aggressive and misleading strategy to drag down the price paid to fresh milk producers.

“If it continues unchecked, there is a risk of a shortage of milk on shop shelves over the winter months,” Tim Cullinan said.

“The two retailers sell milk under the ‘Coolree Creamery’ and the ‘Clonbawn Irish Dairy’ brands. Yet neither creamery or dairy exist. Using these phantom local-sounding dairies and creameries is a marketing sleight-of-hand aimed at convincing consumers that they are buying local,” he said.

“Lidl and Aldi should put the brand of the actual dairy/creamery where they source their milk on the carton, not fictitious dairies and creameries designed to purposefully mislead consumers. There should be full transparency,” he said. 

The expansion of Aldi and Lidl has coincided with the move away from established brands and it has led to a sharp reduction in the retail price, which has put downward pressure on the price paid to farmers. This has led to a 25% reduction in the number of specialist fresh milk producers. These farmers have to milk their cows 365 days of the year often with two calving seasons. 

According to the National Milk Agency, the producer share of the final price has also fallen from 43% to 34% since 1995, a trend which is leading to an exodus from year-round production.

IFA Liquid Milk Chairman Keith O’Boyle said the National Dairy Council (NDC) logo is the only guarantee consumers have that the milk they are buying is produced and processed in the Republic of Ireland.

“Retailers which continue to drive down the price will ultimately drive more farmers out of business. Their policy of squeezing dairy processors and farmers to achieve footfall is totally unsustainable. If these farmers don’t keep milking all year round, we will have a shortage of milk over the winter months,” he said.

IFA’s campaign – https://www.ifa.ie/campaigns/support-farmer-owned-branded-milk/ – was launched this weekend and is aimed at securing a fair price for those farmers who have a year-round system that incurs higher costs.

IFA will be looking to the new Food Ombudsman’s office to carry out a forensic investigation of the labelling and margins in the milk chain.

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