UK discount retailer Farmfoods has agreed to talks with farmers on the price it pays for milk after protests at three sites last night.
Dairy farmers blockaded Farmfoods’ distribution centres in Scotland, Manchester and Solihull last night in the latest demos at the price retailers are paying for milk.
Farmers For Action chairman David Handley said: “Farmers made sure that Farmfoods knows what it feels like not to be able to make money. They’re the focus going forward and they’ve agreed to a meeting this morning so hopefully we can progress with them as well. There is nothing down in black and white yet but it’s going in the right direction.”
The farming group met with another UK discounter, Iceland Foods, yesterday to discuss the price the retailer pays for milk. Iceland had agreed to talks after it was also targeted by protests last week.
Handley said the talks with Iceland went “very well indeed”, adding: “We discussed a whole number of issues but they all centred around the issue that farmers have got to be paid the cost of production for their milk. We put some suggestions forward to Iceland on how we think that can be achieved and they’ve agreed to look into that. Some of the stuff is quite sensitive and in the next week we’ll have a lot more we can talk about.”
Handley said it will meet with Iceland representatives again in the next ten days. “Hopefully come out with something that will please not only the farmers but Iceland’s consumers,” he said.
A spokesperson for Iceland described the talks as “constructive”, and said it had allowed the retailer to demonstrate it had “not derived any benefit from this year’s price cuts by milk processors”.
“Following these discussions, Iceland has agreed to investigate the development of an improved milk pricing model that would clearly recognise the price paid to farmers by its supplying processors. Iceland is and intends to remain a major supporter of British milk and British agriculture, buying all its fresh milk and virtually all its other dairy products from UK processors,” the spokesperson said.
Plans from the UK’s largest dairy manufacturers to cut the price they pay for milk on 1 August prompted a wave of protests by farmers last month.
Farmers succeeded in getting processors to postpone or decide against plans to lower their milk prices on 1 August. However, farmers are still trying to claw back cuts made in May and continuing protests, targeting retailers.