28 May 1999
Scots fear end to school milk subsidy

By Allan Wright

THERE is a real threat that the European Unions school milk subsidy could be withdrawn, claims the farmers co-operative which handles most of the milk produced in Scotland.

“We are seeking an early meeting with the new Scottish health minister Susan Deacon to seek her support in the fight to retain the subsidy,” said John Duncan, chairman of Scottish Milk.

A recent report, prepared by London Universitys Wye College, stated that the school milk subsidy was not an effective way of promoting milk.

The subsidy, worth 20ppl on whole milk and 12.5ppl on semi-skimmed milk, was withdrawn from secondary schools by the Conservative government.

But the support remained for primary schools and was particularly popular in Scotland, where up to 8 million litres a year were sold through the scheme at about 70ppl.

Scottish Milks schools executive Dennis Gray said sales had dropped by more than 60% when the subsidy was withdrawn in secondary schools three years ago.

Scottish Milks predecessor, the Scottish Milk Marketing Board, began promoting milk in schools 16 years ago.

Milk bars were established in many schools and the 100 millionth litre was sold through those outlets this week.

Apart from the threat to the subsidy, milk sales in schools face increasing pressure from fizzy drinks, said Mr Gray.

Glasgow City Council has established “fuel zones” which are replicas of fast-food outlets sponsored at £28,000 a time by either Coca-Cola or Barrs, the makers of Irn-Bru.

“These places are a shrine to Coca-Cola or Irn-Bru and the aim is to get children hooked on those drinks for life,” Mr Gray claimed.

“I shudder to think what they are doing to the health of our children.”

Mr Duncan said that if the milk subsidy was withdrawn it would give the manufacturers of carbonated drinks, with their huge advertising budgets, carte blanche in the schools market.