Procurement of Welsh dairy produce vital for home industry, FUW tells UK supermarkets

In the face of the current dairy crisis, the Farmers’ Union of Wales is once again calling on major UK supermarkets to commit to the procurement of Welsh dairy produce, and to ensure that the prices paid for dairy products are such that confidence in the long term future of the sector is revived.

Speaking after a recent FUW milk and dairy produce committee meeting, chairman Dai Davies said: “The FUW has written to the leading supermarkets in the UK to highlight that last year saw many months of consecutive downward milk pricing, which has caused major problems for the sector.

“Whilst some forecasts predict a decline in global milk supplies in the latter half of 2015, the Russian trade embargo, coupled with reduced demand in China and a weak economic environment, will likely delay price rises beyond any potential downturn in production.”

According to figures supplied by Defra, the average November UK farm-gate milk price was more than 16 percent lower than the same month in 2013 and is the lowest farm-gate price since September 2012.

“The falling dairy prices experienced by producers in Wales raises significant concerns within the dairy industry, and a lengthy delay in milk price recovery now seems certain due to a continuing supply and demand imbalance within the global marketplace.

“Factors such as low milk prices, poor profitability and long-term uncertainty in the sector have severely undermined confidence in the long term sustainability of this industry; the very nature of which requires a long term commitment and investment from producers,” added Mr Davies.

Whilst the Union recognises that dairy farmers supplying supermarkets on a dedicated supply contract have received more favourable milk prices, such farmers represent only a small fraction of the Welsh dairy sector – around 4 percent of production – and are therefore unrepresentative of the industry as a whole.

“Failure to secure commitment by providing sustainable prices for dairy should be a major concern for all those within the supply chain. Between January and September 2014, UK dairy imports of cheddar cheese, speciality cheese and butter were around 77,000, 271,000 and 42,000 tonnes respectively and the union is therefore urging the supermarkets to ensure that a concerted effort is made to source dairy products from within our own shores,” added Mr Davies.

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