Aldi and Lidl have been criticised by the IFA for an “aggressive and misleading” strategy to drag down the price paid to fresh milk producers.
IFA president Tim Cullinan said left unchecked there was a risk of a shortage of milk on shop shelves over the winter months.
“The two retailers sell milk under the ‘Coolree Creamery’ and the ‘Clonbawn Irish Dairy’ brands. Yet neither creamery or dairy exists. Using these phantom local-sounding dairies and creameries is a marketing sleight-of-hand aimed at convincing consumers that they are buying local,” Cullinan said.
He called on Aldi and Lidl to put the brand of the actual dairy/creamery where the milk was sourced on the carton to ensure full transparency.
The expansion of Aldi and Lidl has coincided with the move away from established brands and led to a sharp reduction in the retail price, the IFA said.
This has downward pressure on the price paid to farmers leading to a 25% reduction in the number of specialist fresh milk producers.
The producer share of the final price paid has fallen from 43% to 34% since 1995, according to figures from the National Milk Agency.
IFA liquid milk chair Keith O’Boyle said the National Dairy Council (NDC) logo is the only guarantee consumers have that the milk they are buying is produced and processed in the Republic of Ireland.
“Retailers which continue to drive down the price will ultimately drive more farmers out of business,” O’Boyle said.
“Their policy of squeezing dairy processors and farmers to achieve footfall is totally unsustainable. If these farmers don’t keep milking all year round, we will have a shortage of milk over the winter months.”
The IFA has launched a new campaign this weekend aimed at securing a fair price for “those farmers who have a year-round system that incurs higher costs”.