Asda has reacted to farmer protests outside its stores by producing its own leaflets that claim it pays more for milk than any other supermarket.
The information was set to be handed out to shoppers targeted during yesterday’s (23 February) campaign by Arla Foods suppliers upset at the milk processor’s 0.9p/litre price cut.
They have targeted Asda because it is Arla’s biggest customer and buys most of its milk from the firm.
Chris Brown, Asda’s agricultural manager, said it was unfair to attack the business.
“Unlike Asda, our rivals don’t publish the price they pay farmers each month.
We’ve got nothing to hide, we’re committed to paying our farmers a fair price every day for their milk.”
The scale of the demonstrations was not known as Farmers Weekly went to press but Andrew Bebb, coordinating the action, said he hoped 20 Asda stores would be picketed, with customers being handed free milk and informed of the problems facing dairy farmers.
However, not all Arla suppliers were supportive of the action.
Doug Lund, vice president of the Pickering branch of the Arla Foods Milk Partnership, which supplies 80% of Arla’s milk, said some members in the area were even calling for any protestors to be kicked out of the partnership because they could threaten the 0.5p/litre premium that Asda paid for its milk.
AFMP chairman Jonathan Ovens said he did not favour such extreme action, although any decision would be down to the group’s board.
“I accept that our members are not happy, but I don’t think protesting outside Asda, Tesco or Sainsbury’s will help.”
Farmers for Action leader David Handley said farmers who criticised the protests, which had the backing of FFA, were nave.
“They are not seeing the bigger picture.”