Milk Marque blames Pound for low prices
By Boyd Champness
MILK prices paid to UK farmers are unlikely to improve until the value of the Sterling returns to more sustainable levels, according to Milk Marque chairman Poul Christensen.
Speaking at the co-operatives AGM in Warwickshire yesterday, Mr Christensen said Milk Marque – which claims to market 48% of all milk produced in the UK – has been experiencing difficult trading conditions.
“Increased access by non-EU countries to the UK markets, together with the strong pound, is putting extreme pressure on UK processors and thus UK milk prices. Until the value of the Pound returns to what analysts suggest are more sustainable levels, the position is unlikely to improve markedly,” Mr Christensen said.
“In the meantime we are pressing the government to recognise this predicament by apply to the EU for green pound compensation, and we have been in correspondence with the Bank of England monetary policy team to explain the impact on agriculture of the high value of the Pound,” he said.
Mr Christensen also took a swipe at the major UK dairy companies, which chose to ignore Milk Marques request to rent their facilities to process surplus milk earlier this year. Milk Marque is still sending surplus milk to the Netherlands where it is processed and sold on the open market, after UK processors chose not to accept Milk Marques offer.
“To deliver to our members a fair and sustainable price, I believe that we have to be in a position to add value to our milk if others are not prepared to buy it at market prices. We are doing this through Milk Marque Developments,” he said. Milk Marque recorded a turnover of £1.79 billion in the year to March 31, 1997, compared to £1.96bn the previous year, and marketed 6.8 million tonnes of milk. The companys pre-tax profit was £12.2m in 1997 compared to £24.7m the previous year.