Free Range Milk Network founder Neil Darwent has expressed his disappointment after Arla released television advertising ‘dialling up’ its organic milk’s free range credentials.
As part of a new £5 million marketing campaign, Arla has launched a television advert and rebranded its organic milk to Arla Organic Free Range Milk, with the claim cows which produced it were outdoors for on average 200 days per year ‘whenever conditions allow’.
Tomas Pietrangeli, managing director of Arla Foods UK said: “We believe there is significant headroom to grow the organic milk category and make organic milk more accessible to our consumers.
“Our new advertising campaign, emphasising the free range claim, will help people to further understand the benefits of organic, encouraging them to trade up from standard fresh milk to organic”.
But Mr Darwent said he was a ‘bit disappointed’ by the move.
“My frustration is we are making the opportunity for other farmers. I wanted to secure freedom for cows and I wanted to recognise and value small, traditional family farms.”
“I wanted to give consumers a choice,” he said.
He criticised the use of the 200 days figure and the vagueness of allowing cows out ‘whenever conditions allow’.
“If you are going to brand something you need standards. I really think they have a big problem monitoring it and that is why we have set up a minimum number of days.
“Even if they do graze cows, it needs to be assessed. There is no definition of free range, it is a nice fluffy message.”
Finn Cottle at the Soil Association said organic milk was ‘always free range’.
“It is great to see that organic is becoming the natural choice for British consumers, with one in four households purchasing organic milk. We look forward to seeing the growth accelerate in the future”.
NFU dairy chairman Michael Oakes said he thought the free range movement should take the move as a compliment as it meant processors were worried about the success the brand had seen.
“Free range milk having been launched seems to have dented sales of organic. It is directly in response to the fact consumers have traded down,” he added.