milk for farmers morrisons

Industry commentators have accused Morrisons of “tokenism” and making “no lasting difference” to the plight of UK dairy farmers with its new milk brand Farmer’s Own.

The supermarket - which has borne the brunt of recent farmer protests over the low retail and farmgate price of milk - unveiled the new brand after a crisis meeting with farmers on Tuesday.

Morrisons Milk for Farmers will go on sale during the autumn and will sit alongside standard-price Morrisons own-brand milk in the dairy aisle. It will be sold at a premium of 10ppl, which (based on today’s retail price of 89p for a four-pinter) means it will retail around £1.13/four-pint.

The retailer’s corporate services director Martyn Jones said the new brand was the result of a desire to “offer practical help” to the dairy sector while enabling its customers “the choice to support dairy farmers directly”. But industry commentators have questioned the motives and practicality of the initiative, and whether dairy farmers will actually benefit.

While describing the announcement as a “positive move and a step in the right direction to [achieve] sustainable milk prices for British dairy farmers”, Farmers for Action chairman David Handley said it “does not go anywhere near far enough” and warned more protests could follow unless Morrisons returned a sustainable price for “all dairy category products” to farmers.

NFU president Meurig Raymond added that while Morrisons had made a “welcome first step” it needed to ensure “plenty of resource was available to promote this product”, while NFU Scotland president Allan Bowie described the announcement as “falling short of the mark in making a lasting and genuine difference to dairy farmers”.

Other commentators have questioned whether the premium paid for the brand will make any difference to the farmgate price. Morrisons milk supplier Arla confirmed to The Grocer this week that the premium would be spread across all 13,500 Arla farmers in Europe, in line with its “co-operative principles”, leaving any potential benefit to UK farmers “negligible” according to one dairy industry insider, who described the plans as “tokenism”.

Dairy industry consultant Ian Potter, described the initiative as a “stunt”.

“They have called the bluff of shoppers and farmers, but how many people will buy it?” he said. “It does nothing at all to address the structural problems of the industry, and won’t add a penny to the milk cheques of farmers - the only thing that will is a cut in production globally,” he warned.