Has Sainsbury’s called the farmers’ bluff?

With consumers ever more aware of how suppliers are squeezed to deliver low shop prices, British farmers calls for higher milk prices may receive a more sympathetic hearing than you might suppose. The Women’s Institute has raised a petition of 72,000 in support of put upon dairy farmers.

And yet it turns out that a Competition Commission appeal for evidence of unfair practices has yielded just a handful of complaints. Now Sainsbury’s has challenged farmers to provide evidence to support their anti-supermarket claims. It’s hard to see why farmers are unable to back up their claims of unfair supermarket practices with hard evidence. The Competition Commission has promised to honour requests anonymity, but more than that, almost 1,000 dairy farmers left the industry last year, placing them beyond supermarket retribution.

The dairy industry has struggled to adapt to a changed environment in which the price of milk is no longer controlled by government. It’s little wonder many in the industry have found the new competitive environment a struggle, but it’s that competition that keeps the price of milk down for the greater good.

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