Sir, The NFU has congratulated Sainsbury’s and the farmers in its Dairy Development Group (SDDG) on their progress and achievements in the past year. The group’s success is testament to the benefits that true partnership in the supply chain can bring. However, I would like to challenge the retailer to go further. 

I am genuinely impressed at how Sainsbury’s, working with Dairy Crest and Wiseman, has fostered good relationships with its dairy farmers. 

One year ago I laid down two challenges to Sainsbury’s. The first was to make a long-term pricing commitment to dairy farmers by establishing a Sainsbury’s price. I’m disappointed this has not been done and in the wake of recent milk price cuts, and a predicted volatile market, I again challenge Sainsbury’s to take control of its liquid milk pricing arrangements. 

Justin King has made clear that Sainsbury’s will continue to invest in its dairy farmers, but did not consider a segregated supply, or a contractual price, as being the right model for the dairy industry. 

Secondly, I challenged Sainsbury’s to extend the principles of the SDDG to its cheese producers. I am delighted to hear that Sainsbury’s has accepted our challenge on cheese and is launching a Cheese Development Group. However, while the wrapper looks good, we are yet to see what’s inside the tin. 

And I have a third challenge for Sainsbury’s. I applaud it for sourcing all of its own-label cheese, milk and cream from Britain. Yet, having made such a strong commitment to sourcing British dairy products, I want to see it promote the Red Tractor logo prominently, on front of pack, on all its own-label British cheese lines. 

Peter Kendall, president, NFU