Milk filled trolley protests farmers

The gap in price between supermarket milk and bottled water has grown to its widest point in more than a year.

With farmers’ unions meeting in London today in response to the growing crisis enveloping the British dairy industry, research by The Grocer has found the average price of four pints of own-label milk sold in the big four supermarkets is now six pence per litre cheaper than the price of a similar sized bottle of water.

Milk vs Bottled Water table 2015

The Grocer revealed in January that supermarket price wars had pushed the average price per litre of a four-pinter to below that of some waters for the first time since March 2014.

Eight months later, with dairy farmers taking to the streets in protest at falling farmgate and low supermarket prices for milk, and most major retailers selling four-pinters at 89p or less, that gap has stretched from 1ppl to 6ppl [Brand View].

It means the average price per litre of a four-pinter is now 42p, compared with 48p for a large-format (above 750ml) bottle of water sold in singles or multipacks within the same retailers.

The average price of milk fell below water at the turn of the year when it reached 43ppl, and fell to 42ppl last month, while the average price of bottled water has risen steadily from 44ppl at the start of January to 48ppl this month.

This comes as farmers have continued ramping up action against retailers over the weekend, with further incidences of ‘Milk Trolley Challenges’ where milk aisles were emptied by farmers. Meanwhile, farmers at an Asda in Stafford took cows into the store on Sunday, prompting one shopper to note that “staff looked on in amazement”, and police had to be called out.

In response, Asda has repeated its position that there is “no link between retail prices and farmgate prices”.

Ahead of the farmer summit today, NFU president Meurig Raymond said “a lot of dairy farmers are finding themselves in a desperate situation”.

He called for other retailers follow the lead of the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose by paying dairy farmers above the cost of production and “to carry some risk and make sure farmers are getting a fair price for their milk”.