Chief Executive of Tesco, Philip Clarke, indicated in an interview in The Observer that food price inflation is inevitable. “Over the long run I think food prices and the proportion of income spent on food may well be going up,” he said. “Because of growing demand it is going to change. It is the basic law of supply and demand.”

How will such pressures impact upon our attitude towards our food?

A recent poll carried out on behalf of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, found that that a majority of British consumers would be prepared to pay more for food if they knew the extra was going to farmers rather than to supermarket shareholders. The YouGov poll highlighted that more than 80% of consumers think it is important to buy British produce where possible as a way of showing support for the nation’s farmers.

It’s very encouraging to hear that loyalty to British farmers appear to be strong amongst consumers. But, I believe that we should not have to depend on food scares such as the horsemeat scandal to drive people to buy British – farmers must actively promote what is good about the food that comes from their farms.

Free Range Dairy is all about promoting positive message about the value of our dwindling number of pasture-based dairy farms, in an attempt drive consumers to select our milk and dairy products on merit rather than simply fear of unhealthy alternatives of dubious provenance. We all know how clever supermarkets have become about creating a perception to convince consumers that food is produced as they would expect – images of cows in fields being a classic. Yet, I know of not one retailer that insists on any minimum number of days grazing for herds supplying their milk. References are often made to cows going outside and grazing lush green grass, whilst in reality this is often only required for a small proportion of the herd for short periods.

With a constant threat of scares from industrial food and farming, I want pasture-based dairy farmers to have the opportunity to distinguish their milk from that produced by confined herds. The current plethora of food labels is confusing and misleading. Free Range Dairy farmers are required to make a simple pledge to graze their cows for a minimum of 180 days a year (160 days in Scotland). I want people to be able to select milk and dairy products with a clear understanding of how cows are managed and the value that we deliver.

If supply and demand is about to drive up food prices, now would be a good time to help hard pressed consumers learn what they are paying for. So, whether you be a farmer, retailer, processor, or anyone supplying milk and dairy products, join us now and help people understand our milk has always been worth more than they might think.


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