Low level of milk price rises provokes anger

By Andrew Shirley

DAIRY CREST has announced milk price rises for March and April but is also warning that some of the increase could be short-lived.

Arthur Reeves, milk purchasing director, said members of supply group Dairy Crest Direct on the firm”s standard liquid contact would get an extra 0.3p/litre for milk supplied in March and at least another 0.3p/litre on April milk.

Those in the Waitrose and Marks & Spencer dedicated pools would receive extra based on the money passed back after the retailers” recent fresh milk price hikes.

First Milk would also get slightly more for the milk it sold to the company because the co-op supplied a flat profile and all of its milk went into the liquid market, he added.

 NFU dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones said: “I am not so bothered about the 0.3p/litre in March but 0.6p/litre for April is not where we thought they would be. I don”t see why it is so low. We will be looking very closely to make sure all the money is being passed back to farmers.”

However, Mr Reeves said Dairy Crest had been totally transparent with its suppliers. “Our prices reflect the mix of our business. We are currently buying a high proportion of milk on which so far it has not been possible to increase prices.”

 Prices for DC Direct members would come under pressure again in May because that was when the full impact of the loss of its 170m-litre Tesco contract would be felt, added Mr Reeves.

 He said it was not “inconceivable” that the April increase might be reversed, with only a “remote possibility” that prices would stay the same.