Dairy farmers have accused Tesco of devaluing quality British milk after the supermarket slashed prices in its stores.
Tesco has cut the cost of four pints of milk from £1.39 to £1 as part of a £200m initiative to lower the prices of popular food staples.
Britain’s biggest supermarket says the price the 650 farmer-suppliers in its Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group are paid will not change.
But Farmers For Action chairman David Handley said cutting the retail price hurt the image of British milk.
“This shows us loud and clear the leopard has not changed its spots,” he said. “Constantly, for the past 12 months since Horsegate, we have heard about how Tesco has changed and how they want to support British farming.
“My big concern is you are taking a high-value milk product, putting all that effort into it, and [they are] selling it cheap. What is the point of doing all that when you send out that message?
“This does nothing to support British farming. I believe it is too far.”
See also Tesco slashes four-pint milk price by 39p
NFU chief dairy adviser Rob Newbery said the union would be watching retail prices closely after the announcement.
“The NFU recognises Tesco’s commitment to sustainable farmgate milk prices with the TSDG, however this decision is still regrettable and risks devaluing what should be a premium consumer product,” he said.
“It is not uncommon for retailers to enter into a price war on certain food staples.
“Farmers do not set retail prices, but we will be monitoring the situation to ensure this short-term marketing effort does not have an effect on farmgate milk prices now and further down the line.”
Tesco’s price cut has sparked anger on Twitter from farmers and famous supporters such as Ben Fogle and Jimmy Doherty.