Malcolm Smith, chief executive of Dairy Farmers of Britain, said they could not continue to supply milk to cheesemakers at a loss.
Speaking at The Dairy Event in Stoneleigh, he said either prices for mild Cheddar had to rise by around £200 a tonne or processors and retailers needed to take a lower margin.
He said the price rise, equivalent to 20p a kg, was essential because domestic cheese stocks were falling and dairy farmers were leaving the industry. “The situation has now got very serious. In the last year 10% of UK dairy farmers have ceased milk production because they simply cannot make a living at current price levels.”
First Milk chief executive John Duncan is supporting the call and has written to 20 leading
retailers asking for their support for a 2p per litre price rise across the total range of British dairy products.
“I have a clear remit to do all that is necessary to get the price up by this amount. The message from our producers is loud and clear.”