Did you know that less than half the butter we eat is made from British milk? Would you like labels on dairy products to list where they’re from so you can pick products made in Britain?
You may have seen videos of cows brought into supermarkets or protesters buying up all the available milk in the dairy aisle. If you were unaware of the current dairy crisis, you may have wondered what was going on. So if you need to catch up on recent developments, here’s a quick summary of what’s been happening.
A decrease in worldwide demand for milk, combined with an increase in supply has led to a reduction in the prices farmers are receiving. Farmers all over Europe say that they’ve been getting below break-even prices for milk that ends up on our supermarket shelves.
Last week, the National Farmers’ Union called on the Government to:
‘Take action to ensure that contracts to all farmers are longer-term and fairer in apportioning risk and reward. […] Government also needs to urgently ensure that rules are put in place regarding labelling so that it is clear and obvious which products are imported and which are British.’
Origin labelling on dairy products
Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, recently announced that she’s convening a meeting of farmers’ leaders and her ministerial counterparts from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to address this crisis.
Among initiatives that include cutting red tape and increasing exports to new markets, she said that she wants to ‘see better branding and clearer labelling of dairy products in supermarkets, retailers and throughout the catering industry so that people know when they’re buying British’. She added:
‘British farmers are superb at producing top-quality milk, but the reality is that this now represents less than half the UK dairy market. In fact, we have a “dairy deficit”. Less than half the butter we eat in this country is made from British milk and only a third of the cheese.’
Do you want to buy British?
Our research shows that people want to know where their dairy products come from and they like to buy British products. We, along with other European consumer associations, have been actively calling for country of origin labelling for dairy products at EU level. Progress has been slow but many agree that clearer labelling is desirable.
It’s right that the government’s calling on retailers to include country of origin labelling on dairy products. You should be given all the information you need to make an informed choice when you’re supermarket shopping.
Do you think manufacturers and supermarkets should display the origin of dairy products on the packaging? Will better origin labelling change your shopping habits?