Robert Wiseman last week announced a 1.7ppl reduction to the price it pays its farmers for their milk

Robert Wiseman last week announced a 1.7ppl reduction to the price it pays its farmers for their milk

Robert Wiseman Dairies has said its decision to cut the price it pays its farmers for milk wasn't taken without "a great deal of consideration", despite criticism from the National Farmers Union (NFU) over the move.

The Muller-owned UK milk supplier last week announced a 1.7ppl reduction to the price it pays its farmers for their milk, to take effect from 1 August. This followed a 2ppl reduction, which took effect in June.

The move drew criticism from the NFU, which slammed the decision as a "catastrophic example of hypocrisy and unfairness". Chairman Mansel Raymond claimed the cut was "a hospital pass by Wiseman to their already beleaguered farmer suppliers".

A spokesperson for Robert Wiseman, however, told just-food today (2 July) that the problem is "industry-wide" and not solely a concern for the group.

"The reality is that when the value of cream in every litre of farm gate milk collapses by the equivalent of 5 ppl, we can't absorb that level of collapse. And if the farmgate milk has a value that is reduced, we have to reflect that in the price we pay."

The spokesperson added: "As far as we are concerned, this is not a decision Robert Wiseman Dairies has taken without a great deal of consideration as to how we reduce our own costs and minimise the need to reduce the price we are able to offer farmers.

"This isn't just a Wiseman problem, this is an industry problem. The value of cream is not a problem that is particular to Robert Wiseman Dairies and we are aware that if we make an announcement of this kind we are going to draw criticism. We don't control the market, all we can do is minimise the extend of the reduction we've made, and that's what we've tried to do."

Asked whether further cuts are likely, the spokesperson said: "Like everyone else, we must now see what happens going forward. But the reality is that cream has been effected by higher levels of production at a time when we have seen weaker consumer demand for the product. The whole industry hopes that these big trends begin to reverse and stabilise."