We wanted to highlight the fact that both of these retailers are using fictitious dairies and creameries in their branding. Retailer-owned brands are destroying margins but Lidl and Aldi go further as they use fictitious dairies and creameries which are designed to mislead consumers.
No. That ship has sailed a long time ago. We want to highlight the fact that these fictitious marketing names such as Clonbawn Irish Dairy and Coolree Creamery are not the actual dairies/creameries supplying the milk at all.
We wanted to give the consumer some guidance and the National Dairy Council (NDC) logo is what we have. The NDC rules refer to ROI (produced and packed in ROI) but that was not intended to be the focus of the advert.
The NDC and the National Milk Agency (NMA) provide important roles to liquid suppliers. The NMA manages regulation while the NDC is responsible for the promotion of all dairy products.
OK, but that’s a matter for the board of the NDC and the board of Bord Bia. We certainly don’t want to be upsetting Strathroy suppliers and we are happy to engage with them to see how we can improve margins for all farmers. Liquid milk farmers have to commit to milking 365 days of the year and if we don’t get a good margin above manufacturing milk, we won’t be able to stay in business. That’s the core issue here.
I agree. “Own” brand sales are the main issue, but our only point of differentiation and reassurance for consumers is that our milk carries the NDC logo and is from farms regulated by the National Milk Agency. This means that farmers have a specific contract to produce milk over the winter months and the country has a vision for what volume of milk is going to be produced so there will always be milk on the shelves. You can’t just turn on and off the supply of milk. There is a long lag period and there needs to be some overall plan in place.
Yes, farmers have a say in decision-making but the reality of business is bigger and more complicated than that. There are competition rules and different processors have different priorities but the liquid milk supplier, who has to commit to milking all year round, is suffering.
However, we are working with farmers to try to change this trend. We need Minister McConalogue to bring forward legislation that delivers a food ombudsman with real power to make the overall food supply chain more equitable for primary producers.
Unfortunately, liquid milk is not the only category of farm produce that is suffering due to the erosion of farmer margins by retailers. The IFA plans to continue its campaign to highlight this issue across other farm produce categories. This has to stop – otherwise, the inevitable outcome will be the exit of farmers from fresh produce markets.