Another of the major milk buyers in the UK, has today announced that it will be following Wisemans and Dairy Crest in reducing the price it pays to farmers. Arla is cutting its price by 2.0 pence a litre from August 1st. This tops the 1.70 and 1.65 pence cuts announced by their competitors last week and once again, is in addition to price cuts handed out in May.

I doubt consumers will even feel a ripple from this move, whilst dairy farmers will be reeling. How can it be that we are one minute being told to gear up to feed 9 billion people and try and secure food supplies for a hungry world and the next we are told there is a lack of demand for milk and milk products around the globe and, therefore, the price farmers receive for their milk must fall?

When you walk around your local supermarket in the next day or two, count up what you spend on milk and dairy products in your household. I have put together some figures below using data from DEFRA and ESA Prices (13/06/12), to give you some idea of what people typically consume and pay in the UK.

Liquid milk

Quantity consumed: 1.5 litres per week (78 litres a year)
Retail price: 51 pence a litre (based on a 4 pint pack at £1.17)
Cost per person: £39.78 a year (10.9p per day)


Quantity consumed: 118 grams per week (6.14kg a year)
Retail price: £9.00p per kilogramme (mature Cheddar)
Cost per person: £55.26 a year (16p per day)


Quantity consumed: 40 grams per week (2.08kg a year)
Retail price: £1.34 per 250g (£5.36 per kg)
Cost per person: £11.15 a year (3p per day)


Quantity consumed: 24ml per week (1.25 litres a year)
Retail price: £1.61p per 600ml (£2.68p per litre)
Cost per person: £3.35 a year (0.9p per day)


  Cost per Person
Per Year Per Day
Liquid milk 39.00 10.7
Cheese 58.94 16.0
Butter 11.15 3.0
Cream 3.35 0.9
£112.44 30.6 pence


Not a lot really is it? Okay I haven’t included yoghurts and icecream and there may be that irresistible little soft cheese you occasionally indulge yourself in. But, £112 a year buys a good chunk of your healthy diet.

The cost of living is going up but then, in many instances, the cost of producing things has risen substantially. In the case of dairy farmers, things like fuel, feed and fertiliser have increased sharply over the last few years and continue to inflate, whilst it seems the price we receive for our milk can be cut on a whim. We can’t turn to our cows and say “Sorry girls, things are tight, you’re going to have to go without food and bedding”. You wouldn’t expect us to do that would you?


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