First chickens, then pigs, now Jamie and Hugh
are saving cows by calling for supermarket boycott on dairy
Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall are
calling on shoppers to boycott supermarkets selling milk below the cost of
The cost of production of a
pint of milk is around 30p and perhaps even more this summer because it is
expensive for farmers to keep cows inside sheltered from the rain and cold.
But processors are set to
cut prices to just 25 pence per litre (ppl), which they say is a result of
pressure from the supermarkets.
The celebrity chefs say the
price cut is making dairy farming "unviable”.
"Our whole landscape is
threatened because retailers offer farmers less money for milk than it costs to
produce,” they said.
M&S, Waitrose, Tesco
and Sainsbury’s all offer more than 29p per litre of milk.
However other retailers are
offering much less, forcing the processors to keep down prices to farmers.
The Co-operative and Asda
have recently put up prices, but it is still below the cost of production while
cheaper supermarkets have failed to act at all.
In a dual statement, Mr
Oliver and Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall, said retailers should not be selling milk
at such low prices and then expecting farmers to take up the loss.
"It’s time supermarkets
stopped using milk as a loss leader. And if they won’t take that initiative,
then perhaps consumers will consider moving their custom from those who offer
milk at crazy knock-down prices to those who will commit to giving dairy
farmers a fairer deal. We urge everyone who drinks milk (that’s pretty much all
of us, of course) to take action.”
Processors Arla, Muller
Wiseman and Dairy Crest have already cut prices by 2p this June and plan
another cut of around 2p in August, bringing the price down to around 25ppl.
Farmers have threatened to
protest but Mr Oliver and Mr Whittingstall said it was ultimately about
"Milk is a brilliant
food but we have all lost sight of its value. We pay more for bottled water
than we do for milk — yet water bubbles out of the ground, while milk comes
from livestock which need our care. How mad is that? Dairy farmers can’t take
industrial action. Their daily commitment to their herd makes it impossible.
How cynical of retailers to take advantage of this. If the dairy industry
expires, or becomes super-industrialised, it’s not just thousands of family
businesses that will go to the wall. Our whole landscape is threatened. All
over Britain the patchwork of hedgerows and grass fields owes its existence to
the traditional production of milk.”