Protests by UK farmers over the price of milk last night (15 August) targeted dairy giant Arla Foods.
Around 300 farmers gathered at Arla’s facility in Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire yesterday evening, blockading the plant throughout the night.
Farmers protests in the last three weeks have succeeded in getting processors to postpone or decide against plans to lower their milk prices on 1 August. However, farmers are trying to claw back cuts reductions made in May and are targeting processors and retailers across the industry.
Farmers For Action chairman David Handley said there has been “complete and utter silence” from Arla as to how they are progressing with returning the money from the cuts.
“Last night’s protest got us a meeting with management, which culminated in a discussion this morning, so we’re just waiting for the outcome of that,” Handley told just-food. “We’ve asked a number of searching questions and we just want some answers. It’s no good them sitting back and saying nothing. We’re in this together and we’ve got to try and resolve this.”
Handley said he is expecting a response from Arla later today. Arla could not be reached for comment on the protests at the time of going to press.
The most recent farmer protests have focused on discount retailers Farmfoods and Iceland Foods.
UK frozen food retailer Farmfoods was the target of protests last week, with dairy farmers blockading the company’s distribution centres in Scotland, Manchester and Solihull.
The company had agreed to a meeting but Handley told just-food today that it was “not very successful”.
“There seems to be a considerable amount of resistance to the fact that the milk suppliers have got to at least be able to get a fair price for their milk. [Farmfoods] was quite blase about it all and has agreed to another meeting in six weeks time, but that’s just ridiculous.”
As a result, Handley said Farmfoods is now “right at the top of the radar again”.
Handley, meanwhile, said Iceland Foods is also working on securing “a formula based on recovering costs for dairy farmers”, following what he said was a “very successful meeting”.
Handley, however, has had more success with dairy processor Dairy Crest, which he says are currently “off the hook”.
“Dairy Crest have been working alongside the Dairy Crest Producer Board and have come up with a formula that they think will assist us in achieving what we want. That is in the process of being printed up, we’re hoping for something on that in the next fortnight.”
However, Handley said he has “heard nothing” from another processor, Robert Wiseman Dairies.