A supermarket shopper has accused Morrisons of misleading the public over its premium milk brand, which suppliers claim will add an extra £5m in income to dairy farmers this year.

The supermarket’s Milk for Farmers, which went on sale in early October, sits alongside its own-brand milk and leaves the decision with the consumer over whether they are willing to pay more to help dairy farmers.

The premium brand sees an extra 23p – or 10p/litre – from every four-pint carton sold “go directly to the dairy farmer”.

See also: Video – Shoppers give verdict on Morrisons’ Milk for Farmers

But although the Milk for Farmers brand is packaged with an image of the Union flag, the extra money raised through sales is spread across the 13,500 European dairy farmers in the Arla co-operative, which supplies Morrisons with its milk.

About 3,000 of these Arla suppliers are British dairy farmers – so less than one-third of the estimated £5m made from sales of the premium milk this year will go directly to British dairy farmers.

Ash Amirahmadi, head of milk and member services at Arla Foods UK, claimed the scheme was due to bring an extra £5m into dairy farmers’ pockets this year.

Speaking at an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) committee meeting on farmgate prices, Mr Amirahmadi said Morrisons’ premium milk was selling “seven times better than expected” with “all that money going directly to dairy farmers”. 

The Milk for Farmers pack (pictured above) states “We give 23p back to the farmer”, with a Union flag appearing pictured behind.

Last month, one Morrisons shopper contacted the supermarket’s customer services to ask for clarification on where the money goes – and subsequently, what the share of profit is for British dairy farmers. 

Dissatisfied with Morrisons’ responses, the disgruntled shopper contacted Farmers Weekly.

He provided the full email exchange (see below). To protect the person’s identity, the shopper is known only as “Mr H”.

Mr H said: “It’s good that Morrisons decided to do something to help struggling British dairy farmers by selling its premium milk.

“However, I think Morrisons should play it straight and tell the public that this product is not only supporting British dairy farmers.”

A Morrisons spokeswoman said: “Morrisons doesn’t directly return the additional 23p to dairy farmers. This is returned by our supplier, Arla.

“We have no influence over how Arla distributes its money but we have a commitment from them that it will be paid back to farmers.

“We are pleased with how Milk for Farmers has been received by shoppers and will continue to listen to their comments.” 

An Arla spokeswoman said: “Arla Foods is a farmer-owned dairy cooperative and as such, all revenue is shared equally amongst our farmer owners, across all owner countries, regardless of what market and product their milk is used. 

“Consequently, British farmers benefit from the sale of all products sold inside and outside of the UK marketplace. Retailers outside of the UK have similar initiatives to what we have in the UK and British farmers are benefitting from those.”

 


The email exchange in full

First email sent from Mr H on 12 October

Hi,

I’ve just seen Milk for Farmers on your website,

“BRADFORD-BASED supermarket chain Morrisons has become the first UK retailer to sell a dairy product where part of the purchase price goes directly back to farmers.

“New milk brand ‘Morrisons Milk for Farmers’ is on sale for the first time today. It sees 23p – or 10p/litre – from every four pint bottle being distributed to dairy farmers.” 

Will this be all to British farmers as the Union Jack on the bottle suggests?


Reply from Morrisons on 13 October

Good morning Mr H,

Thank you for getting in touch about our new Milk for Farmers range.   

Lots of customers have been telling us that they would be prepared to pay more for their milk to support British dairy farmers and so we’re giving them the opportunity to do exactly that. 

Customers now have the choice between Morrisons standard milk at 89p for four pints or the Milk for Farmers at £1.12 for four pints. 

We have also launched Morrisons Milk for Farmers cheddar cheese where 34p from every pack sold will go directly back to the farmers who supplied the milk to make the cheese.

Thanks once again for your feedback it is very valuable. We are listening to our customers and do hope you will continue to enjoy shopping with us.  

Kind regards
Liam Cooper
Customer services department
Wm Morrison Supermarkets 


Reply from Mr H sent on 13 October

Does ALL the extra go to UK farmers please? 


Morrisons’ reply

Good morning Mr H,

I would like to confirm that additional 23p charged for the four pint milk for Morrisons goes directly to dairy farmers. 

Thank you for your interest in Morrisons.


Mr H’s reply

Politely, a thank you, but I asked about UK dairy farmers being the recipients. 

Please answer my question, will it all go to UK dairy farmers? Or do I smell a rat?


Morrisons’ reply

Good afternoon Mr H,

Thanks for contacting us. 

I would like to confirm that the 23p is sent straight to Arla (who source our milk) and they have guaranteed that the money will be distributed to dairy farmers. 

I hope this answers your concerns and we look forward to seeing you again soon at Morrisons.


Mr H’s reply sent on 13 October 

Thank you for quick response. You state “that the money will be distributed to dairy farmers”.

May I clarify your response, do you mean British dairy farmers as the Union Jack logo on the milk bottle infers [sic]?

If this is the case then I am pleased to have assisted the income of our hard-working British dairy farmers.

If not could you please clarify who you are giving the “23p per bottle” to? This was my first question on my original email from the outset. 

Your statement on your first reply said: “Lots of customers have been telling us that they would be prepared to pay more for their milk to support British dairy farmers and so we’re giving them the opportunity to do exactly that.”  

This morning I purchased a four pint pack of British whole milk in Morrisons in Nantwich, happy in the belief that I had put an extra 23p into a British dairy farmer’s pocket. Did I do exactly that? 

I look forwards to you response and clarification to the above still unanswered questions. 


Morrisons’ reply sent six days later on 19 October

Good morning Mr H,

Thanks for contacting us and my apologise for the delay in my response I have been out of office.  

I would like to advise we are currently looking into your enquiry and will be in touch shortly.  

Thank you for your patience.


Mr H email sent to Morrisons on 27 October

Hello,

I am still waiting for your response. How would you define “will be in touch shortly”?

As you said thanks for your patience, you must have known I am a patient person who still has an unanswered question. Perhaps you don’t know the answer.  


Morrisons’ reply sent on 27 October

Good afternoon Mr H,

Thanks for getting in touch and my apologies for the delay in our response. I would like to assure you that we only buy 100% British Milk for use in Morrisons-branded Milk.

We recognise that the current market for liquid milk is impacting on hard-working dairy farmers and their families and we are committed to only using British Milk in our own brand milk.

Thanks once again for your feedback it is very valuable. 

We are listening to our customers and do hope you will continue to enjoy shopping with us.


Mr H reply sent on 27 October

Dear sir, 

You state “that the money will be distributed to dairy farmers”.

May I clarify your response, do you mean British dairy farmers as the Union Jack logo on the milk bottle infers [sic]? If this is the case then I am pleased to have assisted the income of our hard-working British dairy farmers. If not, could you please clarify who you are giving the “23p per bottle” to? This was my first question on my original email from the outset.  

Your statement on your first reply said: “Lots of customers have been telling us that they would be prepared to pay more for their milk to support British dairy farmers and so we’re giving them the opportunity to do exactly that.” 

Do you not understand the question?

In simple terms you only buy British milk, which I applaud, but does my 23p only go to British farmers or does some go elsewhere?  

I feel that question needs an answer not a statement about where you source your milk.

Or perhaps as I wondered maybe you don’t know?


Morrisons’ final reply, sent on 27 October

Good afternoon Mr H,

Thanks for contacting us. I am sorry to say having looked into your enquiry we have nothing further to add to the information we have already provided. Thank you for shopping at Morrisons.