7 April 2000

Tesco says it cannot act to raise milk price

TESCO offered Welsh farming union representatives tea and sympathy this week, but insisted that they could do little to raise the farm gate milk price.

Dairy product managers from Britains biggest supermarket chain, whose distribution depots have been heavily picketed, claimed they could not control the price paid by processors to dairy farmers.

Bob Parry, president of the Farmers Union of Wales, said the company sympathised with the plight of dairy farmers, and promised to look at ways of increasing milk consumption.

"While Tescos commitment to promote milk is welcome I am disappointed that they believe that it is not possible to take direct action to increase farm incomes," said Mr Parry.

"I believe they could have taken the lead and investigated ways of working alongside processors with the aim of increasing the amount paid to farmers."

Hugh Richards, president of NFU Cymru-Wales, said the message from the meeting and others was that price competition between dairies to supply the supermarket giants would go on squeezing primary producers.

Successful promotion would lift the market by raising consumption, but that was a long-term exercise. The market could not be bucked and in his view no individual company would unilaterally raise the retail price of milk to pay more to farmers. &#42