Life is never dull in dairy, especially among the big three milk processors: Arla Foods, Robert Wiseman Dairies and Dairy Crest.
On Tuesday, Dairy Crest announced that, from July, it will lose its contract to supply fresh liquid milk to Tesco. It previously won the supply deal from Arla back in 2011 – and that’s exactly where the business is going back to after the conclusion of this deal. Swings and roundabouts, as they say.
To minimise the risk of a farmer backlash – cue mental images of farmers chucking Chedds Bricks through the windows of its Cheshunt HQ – Tesco put out a statement of its own, in an unusually proactive move.
It claimed the farmers supplying it milk via Dairy Crest – and benefiting from the premium Tesco pays its supplying farmers – could “retain their Tesco contracts by transferring their milk to Wiseman Dairies or Arla, if they wish to do so”. Subtext: every little helps.
However, as anyone with the foggiest idea of contract law will know, it’s not quite so simple. The farmers are contracted to Dairy Crest and would have to serve their notice period before jumping ship.
That truth rather curdles Tesco’s PR-friendly line that “these farmers can remain members of the Sustainable Dairy Group and continue to benefit from the strong price paid by Tesco for their milk”.