Organic milk shortage looms, processors warn

DAIRY PROCESSORS have warned of an organic milk shortage this winter, as soaring consumer demand outstrips farmers’ ability to produce it.


Nicholas Saphir, chairman of the Organic Milk Suppliers’ Co-operative, has warned that further production hikes cannot be achieved unless milk prices rise.


OMSCo supplies two-thirds of the UK’s organic milk and has seen volume growth of 50% in the past six months alone.


His comment was welcomed by the NFU’s chief dairy adviser, Tom Hind.


Mr Hind saw rising prices as a sign that supply and demand had come into balance after years when much organic milk only found a home in conventional pools.


Nearly all the milk produced on organic farms was being sold as organic for a premium, OMSCo claimed.


Sam Taylor, who supplies the co-op with 1.2m litres a year, will be getting 25p/litre for his milk in October.


“Ideally we need 26p/litre plus to cover drawings and make enough profit for reinvestment. That’s been compounded by the tightening of the feed regulations this year.”


Neil Burchill, managing director of processor Rachel’s Organic, said the situation at his dairies was even worse, with potential shortages as early as November.


He appealed for farmers “in conversion” – with certified organic land but cows on conventional feed – to make the six month switch back to feed.


A Soil Association spokesman said: “New producers are urged to consider any move to organic production extremely carefully, and should contact an organic milk group before making any final decision to convert.”

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