IFA hits out at co-ops over retail liquid milk contract battles

The IFA National Liquid Milk Committee, meeting this week fired a shot across the bow of Ireland’s liquid milk purchasing dairies and retailers in the wake of the shift in sourcing of the Tesco private label milk contract between Glanbia and some of the other dairies.

The comments come following the news this week that Glanbia has lost part of its milk contract to supply own-brand milk to Tesco to Arrabawn and Aurivo.

Chairman Teddy Cashman said the Committee members and the producer groups they represent are totally united on this issue.

“They do not want to see any of their dairies concede value back to retailers in a futile attempt to capture a temporarily greater share in a mature, static consumer market, at the expense of remunerating liquid milk specialist producers sustainably.

“On behalf of Ireland’s 1,800 liquid milk producers, I call on dairies, the National Milk Agency (NMA) and the National Dairy Council (NDC) to ensure that, where a retailer sources private label milk from Republic of Ireland milk producers for sale to consumers.

The IFA says the following three conditions must apply:

  • the milk is sourced exclusively from producers contracted under the auspices of the NMA;
  • the milk is produced and processed in the Republic of Ireland and the process is audited by the NDC to ensure the milk qualifies for the NDC mark; and,
  • the producers are remunerated adequately for the additional costs they incur in producing milk year-round, especially over the winter months.

According to Cashman liquid milk represents approximately 8% of Ireland’s milk production, and it is valued at €530m per annum.

“It is also valued by consumers, who seek out and appreciate the fresh, high-quality milk produced locally year-round by our 1,800 specialists, and whose diet and health at every age benefits from fresh dairy consumption,” Cashman added.

“We must nurture this valuable sector, which can only be sustained by ensuring the specialist producers supplying it can make a viable living. We believe the NMA as regulators, and the NDC as the promotional body, must step up to secure the long- term sustainability of the sector by ensuring responsible behaviours by dairies and retailers,” he said.