Milk buying power turns sour

15 March 2007
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15 March 2007 | Paul Snell

The president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU) has criticised the buying power supermarkets wield over his members.

Speaking at the NFU's annual conference, Peter Kendall said: "I am frustrated that the large retailers are simplistically peddling 'supply and demand economics' as the cause of the crisis in our milk sector," he said.

"We want to engage with supermarkets to offer our customers the security and quality that comes with a UK supply base. But they must understand that the farming businesses that make up that supply base must be profitable."

Kendall said that although the supermarkets were promoting their sustainability credentials, prices for farmers, which were as low as 18p for a litre of milk, were not sustainable. He also repeated that a "fully functional supply chain" was key to aiding British farming.

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King, who also spoke at the event, addressed recent complaints of supplier abuse by supermarkets. "I can't guarantee that every buyer will behave as we'd wish all the time," he said. "But if suppliers have concerns, our trading director will look into the matter."


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