Tesco denies censoring milk protest comments

Tesco has denied deleting website comments criticising it over low milk prices paid to farmers.

The retail giant made the denial after farmers and consumers targeted supermarket stores and internet sites over price cuts that slashed 4p/litre off farmgate milk prices.

Britain’s biggest retailer responded after Lynn Corfield, of Church Stoke, Powys, accused it of removing critical comments from the Tesco Facebook page.

Suggestions Tesco had deleted comments were also been made on Twitter.

But a customer care spokesman for Tesco said the retailer had only removed comments that included offensive language – a standard procedure for many websites.

“We’re happy for people to comment on a number of topics including milk prices, and as such haven’t deleted any posts regarding this subject,” he said.

“We have removed a small amount of comments that have broken our community rules, such as the inclusion of profanities however, that is as far as any action taken has gone.”

Comments have been left on Tesco’s Facebook page accusing the retail giant of “ripping off” British farmers and helping to destroy the countryside.

In response, Tesco said: “We greatly value our dedicated dairy farmers and are one of the highest paying retailers for milk, above the market rate.

“Our 720 direct suppliers are members of the Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group which we set up to address the volatility in the dairy market and ensure they get a fair price for their milk.”

But critics argue this isn’t good enough because Tesco also buys milk and dairy products from farmers who don’t belong to its milk group.

Other supermarkets have also been targeted.

“We’re happy for people to comment on a number of topics including milk prices, and as such haven’t deleted any posts regarding this subject.”
Tesco spokesman

More than 70 comments have been left on the Co-operative Food website, below an article explaining how the retailer is backing British dairy farmers.

Farmers that supply the Co-operative say they are still making a loss on milk even though the supermarket chain is increasing the premium it pays by 0.65p per litre from 1 August.

“As a member, I am embarrassed and upset by the Co-operative’s position on this subject,” wrote Brian Hemsley in a website comment.

“Your ‘flowery’ statement above also does not satisfy me. Accepting that other assistance is helpful to (some?) farms, please pay a fair price for all milk.”

Meanwhile, police were called after more than 20 young farmers and a convoy of tractors descended on the Tesco Extra store at Yate, South Gloucestershire, on Saturday (14 July).

Milk was poured into a bath tub carrying Lauren Heesom and Bethany List to highlight how it is cheaper than bottled water.

Other protests also took place over the weekend, including a group of about 20 farmers who gathered outside the Asda store at Thurmaston, Leicestershire, on the same day.

The farmers handed leaflets to shoppers emphasising how low prices paid for milk are undermining farm businesses and driving producers out of business.

Earlier, an Asda spokeswoman said the retailer was continuing to have discussions with farmers who supply it with milk.

“We’re extremely proud of the relationship we have built up over the last six years, which is a result of having an open dialogue with them and Arla.

“We pay a premium above and beyond the Arla base price – and that premium benefits each one of the 300 dedicated farmers who supply Asda with milk.

“We will continue to meet with our farmers and their representatives over the coming days and weeks as we seek to resolve the current difficulties they face.”

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