Milk price talks cannot take place against the continuing backdrop of militant dairy farmer protests, UK dairy processor Müller Wiseman has claimed.
Müller Dairy UK and Müller-owned Robert Wiseman Dairies have reiterated their commitment to discussions on milk prices with suppliers, but slammed the latest wave of “militancy and illegal blockades.”
The comments come just days after the firms were targeted by campaign group Farmers for Action (FFA).
Around 300 farmers equipped with tractors blockaded the Müller yogurt factory in Market Drayton and a nearby Robert Wiseman Dairies processing facility earlier this month. According to FFA, distribution was disrupted from 6.30pm until after midnight as a result of the demonstration.
In September 2012, Müller Dairy UK and Robert Wiseman Dairies announced that from 15 October 2012 they would increase the price paid to suppliers for raw milk to 29 pence per litre (ppl).
Despite the recent increase, FFA is calling for an increase to at least 31ppl – the current cost of production.
Actions “paralyse” dairy
“We are acutely aware of the challenges facing our suppliers and we are determined to do all we can against a backdrop of competitive pressure from UK and European competitors,” said a Müller Wiseman spokesperson.
“It is important, however, to stress that constructive discussion cannot take place against a backdrop of militancy and illegal blockades.”
“These actions paralyse our dairies, place jobs at risk and are a gift to overseas competitors who seek to increase sales of dairy products which do not contains a drop of British milk,” the spokesperson added.
FFA vice chairman Andrew Hemming told DairyReporter.com that a milk price of between 31ppl and 33ppl would be appropriate to cover the cost of production and provide farmers with a small profit margin.
“We are appealing for an increase in the price of milk to cover the cost of production, which at the moment stands at around 31 pence per litre. But at the moment, we wouldn’t even say that 33ppl is out of the question.”
According to Hemming, Müller Wiseman has indicated that there will be no price increase before the end of the year.
DairyReporter.com pressed Müller Wiseman on whether it would be possible to meet farmer demands, but the dairy processor declined to comment further.
Hemming added that FFA is preparing an ultimatum for UK dairy processors in anticipation of no price increase.
“Our chairman David Handley is in the process of writing to major UK processors issuing an ultimatum - the sooner a milk price increase is announced, the less uncomfortable Christmas will be for them.”
“The events of this summer will go on for longer than everyone first thought,” Hemming concluded.