Farmfoods ‘agrees to talks’ over milk prices

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Farmers For Action (FFA) has shifted its focus to the discounters and has already won a mini-victory in its campaign to get better milk prices for farmers.

The lobby group said Farmfoods had this week agreed to a meeting despite being initially reluctant to engage with FFA’s concerns.

FFA contacted the frozen foods specialist last week to express concern about a particularly aggressive Farmfoods promotion on milk, which it said was ­devaluing the market.

In an email to FFA chairman David Handley, Farmfoods MD Eric Herd said “our primary concern, as a family business, must always be to compete with the very large businesses who dominate UK retailing.” That response had caused outrage at FFA, with Handley claiming “they’re basically giving milk away.” But on Wednesday, after The Grocer had approached Farmfoods for comment, Handley said there had been a breakthrough, and Farmfoods had agreed to meet after all.

This is the first time FFA has formally contacted a discounter since it relaunched its fight against low milk prices in October.

Farmfoods, along with Iceland and discounters such as Lidl and Aldi, has been held responsible by many for the milk price ‘war’ that kicked off at the end of the summer, offering, for instance, two two-litre cartons of milk for £1.50. The success of such deals prompted Asda to cut its own milk prices in a bid to win back market share and its big-four rivals followed suit.

Handley welcomed news that Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons had recently put their prices back up to £1.55 for four pints, adding that Asda which is still selling at £1.25 was still on the radar for future ­campaigns.

FFA also plans to boost awareness of its ongoing campaign by handing out leaflets at selected retailers across the country this weekend.

Meanwhile, Asda this week capitalised on its competitors’ price increases with an ad in The Daily Express contrasting its milk price with its ­rivals.

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