Milking It

There’s something stinky going on with milk at the moment.  For those of you who may not be aware, there is of a milk crisis of sorts going on in Australia.  Our poor dairy farmers are being paid a pittance per litre for their milk. Price-wise, consumers have had a minor win as a result, with the large supermarket duopoly of Woolworths and Coles having a price war and resulting in a price of $1 per litre.  This is reported to be not even covering production costs for farmers.

I did some quick research before writing this post and it appears to be a much more complex matter than I first realised.  According to a source on News.com.au, the global price of whole milk powder has collapsed by nearly 60 percent from its peak three years ago.  The reasons stated for this are a trade embargo by Russia in 2014, and the EU removing quotas on milk in March last year to allow EU dairy businesses to compete, allegedly leading to oversupply.

Whatever the cause/s, dairy farmers are struggling.  To do our little part, I have been purchasing a farmer’s milk brand which is more expensive in the hope that the extra I am paying goes back to the farmers.  Further research on this shows that the extra money may not necessarily be paid forward as hoped.

And then to the supermarket war – ie Demi –v- Woolies.  Virtually every time I go to purchase milk from Woolies, the home branded variety has nice long use-by dates on it – around 9 days or more.  However, the use by dates on the farmer’s branded milk is almost always only a few days ahead.

Three times now I have chased down a supermarket attendant and asked whether there is more farmer’s branded milk in storage which has longer dates on it.  Twice I was successful – showing that the freshest farmer’s branded milk is not displayed; the last time, I was told that ‘what’s on the shelf is all there is’.  At other times the fridge shelves have little stickers everywhere saying that the farmer’s branded milk is ‘temporarily out of stock’.

Really?  My theory is that the longer dated home brand milk is being pushed in favour of the farmer’s branded milk.  I must be a conspiracy theorist – or just perhaps a cynic?

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