Cost of living crisis milk

Leading milk suppliers are pleading with independent retailers to be patient with ongoing price increases due to spiralling costs.

Freshways announced last week that it would increase its milk prices by 7p per litre, while the price of cream would rise by 20%.

In a letter sent to stores, managing director Bali Nijjar explained the change had been implemented to “ensure we have enough milk available for our customers”.

He added: “We must maintain a competitive price with our farmers, and we have committed to paying our farmers another 5p per litre with effect from September 2022.”

Nijjar went on to warn of milk availability issues in the coming months. “We will see shortages on the shelves, so Freshways must maintain a competitive price with our farmers at all times,” he said.

In May, retailers claimed the price of milk had increased more in the past 12 months than it had done in the past dozen years.

While Nijjar couldn’t rule out further hikes, he said he didn’t currently anticipate any more this year, or the start of next.

“We are a dying breed of processors. If we don’t stay in business, there aren’t many options left for the independent retailer. The independents have a tough time ahead, but we are not profiteering. We want them to survive,” he added.

“They are our lifeblood, and we have no desire to supply the multiples, but we would ask that they bear with us during this time.” Freshways is not alone in implementing increases. Wells Farm Dairy informed retailers of price increases three times in August.

On 9 August, it raised the price of cheddar cheese between 5p and 10p, alongside clotted cream.

On 15 August, it announced an increase of 65p per tray of Müller yoghurt, followed by a 5p-per-litre increase on milk and 7p-per-litre increase on organic milk two days later.

In letters seen by betterRetailing the supplier said: “Record fertiliser costs, coupled with staffing problems on farms, are having a significant impact on milk production in the UK.”

In June, the company reported deliveries were 3% below the same time last year.

Joey Duhra, who, with his wife Julie, runs Jules’ Convenience in Telford, said he stopped his order with Wells Farm Dairy earlier this year due to rising costs.

“I used it because it was relatively local, but it seemed that every week there were price increases and I was selling at a loss,” he said.

The supplier was approached for comment.

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