For most of us, milk is a staple of our daily diet – whether in our morning cereal or an afternoon cup of tea – and one thing we know is that our customers really care about where their milk comes from.
In September, we lowered our milk prices from 89p to just 85p and shared the news with customers on our social channels. One of the first questions they asked was: does this mean you’ve paid your farmers less? Our resounding answer was no – because for the past 20 years we have upheld the M&S Milk Pledge, ensuring our dairy farmers receive an industry leading price for the milk they supply to our stores.
We have a far-reaching plan to transform M&S Food by protecting the magic and modernising the rest. The magic means upholding the things our customers love about M&S, such as our innovation and, in this case, our sourcing standards. As we deliver our new lower prices, customers can trust we will never compromise on the quality of our products or the welfare of our farmers and their animals.
I’m proud to say that this month marks the 20th anniversary of our Milk Pledge. Back in October 1999, we introduced this promise to our dedicated milk pool because we recognised our farmers needed the stability to invest in their businesses for generations to come. Our Milk Pledge promise is that we’ll always pay our farmers a transparent and leading price in the industry, taking into account the costs of production and recognising their hard work to meet our higher welfare, RSPCA Assured standards. We’ve been paying one of the highest prices for milk over the past 20 years and today, we have 44 Select Farms across the UK delivering regionally sourced, RSPCA Assured fresh milk into our stores.
Last week, the effects of the mounting pressures on the liquid milk industry became a reality for Tomlinsons Dairies. As two of the impacted farmers produce milk for our customers in Wales, we recognise that every relationship is key to maintaining our industry-leading standards and we’ve made it our priority to support these farmers directly. This includes exploring various supply options for the future and ensuring that they’re paid for the M&S milk they’ve produced.
And we’ve proven that putting farmers first through initiatives like our Milk Pledge makes a real difference. Joanna Binnington, one of our dairy Select Farmers, said: “We’re hugely proud to be an M&S producer and have really benefited from the partnership. We came to a crossroads about 10 years ago where we were either going to have to stop milking or put a significant investment into the business. The fact that we have this very secure contract with M&S means we were confident we could make that investment for the next 20 years. We are extremely proud to be part of the pool.”
When it comes to everyday products like milk, we’ll continue to lower our prices and deliver trusted value to our customers through investing in our partnerships and reducing production costs. Our Milk Pledge was created to make sure that we protect our farmers and their families so they can continue producing great quality milk – now and in the future. And crucially, our customers can be confident that the food and drink they buy from M&S has been sourced responsibly and to the highest standards of quality and welfare.