The non-aligned producers are bearing the brunt of the pain in the milk industry, and retailers, not processors, are largely to blame.
And that pain, according to milk analyst, Chris Walkland, is a result of a market which is ‘working for no one – it is broken’.
Speaking at the Dairy Show at Shepton Mallet, he said producers has been short-changed to the tune of £130-£150 million since June as a result of the delay in feeding improved prices back to farmers.
Speaking to a farming audience, he said: “Processors and you are caught between a rock, which is the global market, and an even harder place, namely Britain and Europe’s ruthless retailers and food service companies. The reality is that the processors are allowed to make precious little, if any, margin by some, not all, of their customers.
“If you want someone to hang for tardiness, then I say look to the customers, not the processors.”
He said that some ‘market-share obsessed’ and ‘profit-hungry’ retailers ‘use and abuse’ this industry like a pawn.
“Some of the retailers try to defend themselves with their aligned contracts or cheese bonuses, and they have kept their aligned suppliers in clover for the last few months, but at what cost to the non-aligned?” he added.
“Something has to change quickly as you non-aligned farmers need a better deal,” he said.
This required better farmer prediction of volume, formulaic pricing, more money coming into the sector from the retailers and the facility of farmers to fix forward a proportion of their milk at a guaranteed price.