to not want to pay rock bottom prices?

(75 Posts)
dolphinsandwhales Mon 17-Mar-14 15:13:47

Disclaimer: I'm not wealthy, I'm a single mum with a job and mortgage and dc to support. However, I feel very uncomfortable when I see the likes of Tesco/ASDA advertising discounted 4 pts of milk for £1 etc. I understand they are a business, but I'd rather pay an extra 30p if that would ensure the farmer is paid a living wage, the animals get a decent standard of life. Same with fruit, veg and other food (I don't buy meat so that's not an issue to me).

I've started to only shop in 'more ethical' supermarkets like co-op and waitrose for this reason, Aibu to think it's in no ones interest for prices to be so cheap that those down the supply chain suffer?

JonSnowsPout Mon 17-Mar-14 15:14:40

No everyone can afford the extra 30p

JonSnowsPout Mon 17-Mar-14 15:15:00


dolphinsandwhales Mon 17-Mar-14 15:15:50

Btw I'd like to re add that I'm not wealthy and have a budget of £50 per week for all meals, inc packed lunches and cleaning/laundry etc, I'd still like to try to make sure suppliers get paid properly.

CoffeeTea103 Mon 17-Mar-14 15:16:16

Yabvu, I hardly think that to someone that 30p means a lot is going to be concerned about anything else.

dolphinsandwhales Mon 17-Mar-14 15:18:28

But surely the 30p means a lot to the farmer too? Or should farmers be pushed out of business by supermarkets?

TheBody Mon 17-Mar-14 15:20:31

sorry no, would love to agree with you and be more ethical, but with 4 adults and 2 teens in the house 30p on each milk is a lot as we get through a lot of milk.

haven't got the luxury to worry about the suppliers I am afraid.

They probably won't be paying less to the farmers just taking a hit on their profit margin I think most farmers get paid about 17p per pint.

Kendodd Mon 17-Mar-14 15:26:19

Well I think it's right to also think about the suppliers, I'm with you op.

Although I have to admit I don't have a lot of sympathy for British farmers, I live in the countryside and have never seen a poor farmer. They are all private schools, brand new Range Rovers and holidays in the Caribbean. Don't believe the tosh they trot out about being poor.

AnaisB Mon 17-Mar-14 15:26:56

I think a lot of these things are loss leaders and the prices in store does not affect what the suppliers are paid (i.e. what feel said.)

I would love to be more ethical but I can't afford it, sorry.

YANBU - though I appreciate that for some people it is difficult to find that extra 30p.

Should farmers be living on the poverty line or are people no longer allowed to make a decent profit from the work they do? So what if they are driving around in Range Rovers? They supply our most basic product - food - I have no problem with them making decent money.

I am also deeply uncomfortable with the big supermarkets driving down prices by screwing suppliers and pretending they are doing the consumer a favour. Tesco don't give a hoot about their customers or their suppliers, just the bottom line.

noddyholder Mon 17-Mar-14 15:36:32

YANBU This will backfire in the end if some farmers cannot keep operating Then prices will rise. Its about being fair to the people that really matter not fat cats playing games with each other

MoreBeta Mon 17-Mar-14 15:39:03

The problem with supermarkets that there are relatively few of them and they are therefore in economic terms what is called an oligopsony and exert a significant amount of buying power.

"This typically happens in a market for inputs where numerous suppliers are competing to sell their product to a small number of (often large and powerful) buyers.

In each of these cases, the buyers have a major advantage over the sellers. They can play off one supplier against another, thus lowering their costs. They can also dictate exact specifications to suppliers, for delivery schedules, quality, and (in the case of agricultural products) crop varieties. They also pass off much of the risks of overproduction, natural losses, and variations in cyclical demand to the suppliers."

This is very typically a problem in agricultural commodity markets where many small farmers are selling to a few large merchants.

OddBoots Mon 17-Mar-14 15:40:24


Farmers should not be paid too little to be able to afford to live or to be forced to compromise animal welfare, if people can't afford to pay what it costs for those very basic things to be achieved then it is a failure of wages and benefits not that food is too expensive.

Normalisavariantofcrazy Mon 17-Mar-14 15:41:14

I want to pay rock bottom prices and ensure the producers get paid fairly and that I don't constantly hear how much the supermarkets profits have again sky rocketed.

I would rather pay a bit more for British milk than have the industry die and HAVE to pay more for milk that has to be imported.

crazyspaniel Mon 17-Mar-14 15:44:44

Well, I know plenty of poor farmers, Ken Dodd, so I don't think you can generalise. It's a very polarised industry. There are many round my way that are struggling to even make £8k a year and have never been on holiday in their lives. Just recently one of them had to sell their farmhouse to some city types and move into a mobile home a couple of fields along.

The problem I see is that farmers around here are no longer growing actual food. They are filling their fields with solar panels and oilseed (rape) or linseed crops instead. This is the inevitable outcome of prices being driven down, and it does not take a genius to work out that this is not a good situation for the long term.

Normalisavariantofcrazy Mon 17-Mar-14 15:45:33

If we paid more for produce i can garuntee the profit will not filter down to the producers

They may not have cut the price to the farmer.

I noticed last week in our little sainsbos, milk was £1 for 4 pints, so I may call in there for it now rather than the Lidl or iceland where it has been £1 for 4 pints for years now. That's the whole point. It's a loss-leader to get people in on the assumption that will will buy other stuff while they are there.

Like the cheap Easter eggs. I doubt they are short changing the likes of Cadbury or mars, but people will come in for the cheapo 3 for a fiver Easter eggs and do some other shopping once they are in the door.

I go through 4 pints of milk a day. More at weekends. At 30p a day thats £150 a year. The supermarkets aren't going to be putting that in the farmers pocket so it Might as well be in mine.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Mar-14 15:51:29

In the long run, agricultural commodity prices should reflect the long run marginal cost of producing them.

Food prices can fall gradually if farms become larger and more efficient but in truth the quickest way to make food prices to fall is reduce the quality.

Cuxibamba Mon 17-Mar-14 15:52:15

I think 30p is quite a lot. Much better to ensure the money is split fairly between supermarket/producer and so on, meaning the farmer will earn more money, taking into account the farmer's own cost and work, but prices will stay the same.

BumpNGrind Mon 17-Mar-14 15:54:41

OP I agree with you. I don't believe in a race to the bottom and after the winter we've had, I'm sure many farmers are going to struggle and the cost of feeding their cattle will rise as the floods may have ruined harvests etc. I thought the same when I saw the price of milk dropping.

I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I do want a British based farming industry that's thriving and I would be prepared to pay an extra 7.5p a litre if I thought farmers had bigger profits and had well looked after animals. Obviously I know this isn't necessarily guaranteed by increasing the prices alone.

I also think that many other parts of our economy could be vastly improved by giving people decent wages and not trapping them in low paid, low hours or god forbid, zero hour contract jobs.

BumpNGrind Mon 17-Mar-14 15:55:37

7.5p a pint*

HoneyDragon Mon 17-Mar-14 15:55:58

You don't necessarily have to pay more to shop ethically if you know what you are buying, and it's a subjective mission as everyone's ethics vary.

Ploppy16 Mon 17-Mar-14 15:57:09

I know plenty of farming families who drive decades old range rovers and don't send their children to private school, in fact I married into a farming family who gave up milk supply a long time ago because they couldn't afford it. It's a ridiculous generalisation to say that all farmers are rich.
OP I do understand what you mean but an awful lot of people can't afford an extra 30p everytime they buy milk.

Normalisavariantofcrazy Mon 17-Mar-14 15:58:18

I don't get why the onus should be on the cash strapped consumer and not the multi million pound making corporation?!

ppeatfruit Mon 17-Mar-14 16:04:27

I think, I HOPE that there are a few ethical supermarkets who make sure their suppliers are paid properly. NYANBU

We're lucky in that the supermkt. we go to in Fr. is only organic and they charge LESS (especially for the fresh produce a lot of which is locally produced too) than the normal supermarkets. We go to the markets too and they're cheap.

If i had to I would go without something else to pay proper prices for my food I prefer to eat healthy unsprayed, untreated with antibiotics food.

LaGuardia Mon 17-Mar-14 16:14:42

Hey, OP, don't sweat it. I live out in the sticks are there are no poor farmers around here. All enjoying their EU subsidies, and driving around in brand new Range Rovers, wearing Barbour jackets and braying in the local pub.

wowfudge Mon 17-Mar-14 16:34:31

It's been well publicised that supermarkets have made life hell for dairy farmers. I'm with you OP - YANBU.

MoominMammasHandbag Mon 17-Mar-14 16:44:28

We get our milk from the milkman now: costs a bit more but means that we don't run out and we also avoid those expensive top up shops.
But an unforeseen benefit is that the milk, from a local dairy, tastes massively nicer than the supermarket stuff. So much so that I reckon a lot of supermarket milk must be watered down or something.

Sallyingforth Mon 17-Mar-14 16:44:47

I doubt very much that the farmers are being paid less.
The shops are taking a hit on the price at the moment, BUT they are not being generous and you are not saving that 30p unless you are living only off milk. They will be making it up with an extra penny here and tuppence there on the other products that you buy.

MoreBeta Mon 17-Mar-14 16:45:39

When I was a child you could still buy 'farm gate' milk but health and safety regulations put paid to that.

Our food in the UK is industrial in all its dimensions.

The UK has never been able to produce all the food it needs since the 1700s. We just don't have enough land and hence a lot of our food has always been imported. Much of our milk is imported now.

My father was a farmer and at age 16 I told him I did not want to be a farmer as there was no money in it. That was 34 years ago. There is still no money in it.

If very high food standards were imposed and enforced rigorously in the UK like in Switzerland then UK farming would be viable and food would be higher quality. We would have to enforce rigorous import controls to stop inferior quality food entering the country too - the EU prevents us doing that. Switzerland does do it because it is not in the EU.

WorraLiberty Mon 17-Mar-14 16:51:31

*We get our milk from the milkman now: costs a bit more but means that we don't run out and we also avoid those expensive top up shops.
But an unforeseen benefit is that the milk, from a local dairy, tastes massively nicer than the supermarket stuff. So much so that I reckon a lot of supermarket milk must be watered down or something.*

I use a milkman too Moomin

I wonder if the difference in taste is that the supermarket milk is normally in plastic tubs rather than glass bottles?

WorraLiberty Mon 17-Mar-14 16:51:45

Bold fail blush

Owllady Mon 17-Mar-14 16:53:53

Kendodd, do you live by a dairy farm?
I do and dairy farmers are not rich and are going out of business at an alarming rate and one of the reasons is they are not getting paid enough for the product they produce. Long term we will end up paying more for milk as it will have to be imported

McPie Mon 17-Mar-14 16:55:06

I think they call promotions like this a "loss leader" as they take a hit on one product in the hope you will buy other things whist you are in store.

francesdrake Mon 17-Mar-14 16:55:33


Owllady Mon 17-Mar-14 16:56:10

I think some of you need to read a bit more or at least watch countrywide. It's been widely reported regarding dairy farming and how many of them are operating at a loss! A lot if dairy farmers are tenant farmers too not land owners

abitofanangrybird Mon 17-Mar-14 16:58:08

My husband is a former dairy farmer - he switched to arable only in the 1980's as it is impossible to earn a living wage as a full time dairy farmer. The British dairy industry is on it's knees, and unless something pretty drastic happens very soon practically all if our milk will be imported in the futurehmm. Companies such as Riverford and Abel & Cole offer an alternative and pay their suppliers a fair price, albeit at a higher cost to the consumer.
To suggest that all farmers are wealthy is ridiculous and ill-informed rubbish. There's a reason that suicide rates in the farming profession are so high.

abitofanangrybird Mon 17-Mar-14 16:59:39

*its not it's!

dolphinsandwhales Mon 17-Mar-14 17:02:42

Interesting replies. I've read in the press a few times that farming is the employment with the highest suicide rate and I've also read criticisms some of you have mentioned, where the likes of ASDA/Tesco force down their prices so far they can barely afford to operate. I'm sure the likes of Mars can stand up to the big supermarkets, but I doubt individual farmers can.

I hope co op and waitrose may be fairer, but who knows. I just feel uncomfortable paying reduced prices when I'm sure it's the farmer/animal welfare that suffers.

mrsjay Mon 17-Mar-14 17:04:03

I was thinking that the other day when i saw the advert going on about farmers how can farmers make a profit if the store is selling milk a a £1 I dont know do the supermarket pay the cost and then reduce it or what ? right enough it is going great guns tesco had no green milk at all yesterday

dolphinsandwhales Mon 17-Mar-14 17:05:22

Abitofanangrybird I'm very interested in what you've said, seems like I need to order from Abel and Cole then. I had read about the suicide rates too. Also the suffering of animals on large scale industrial farms due to costs being driven down so far. It's all very sad.

wobblyweebles Mon 17-Mar-14 17:06:02

Milk prices in the state I live in have a fixed lower limit to solve exactly this issue.

My MIL used to be a farmer and she gave up when it became impossible to make enough money to pay her farm manager (she paid herself nothing). So that's a farm manager looking for another job.

Hippymama Mon 17-Mar-14 17:07:59

I live rurally and don't see many poor farmers where I live (not saying that there aren't any, just that all the ones I know where I live are very comfortably off). The majority of them here manage to drive new range rovers and own two or three properties that they rent out (we rented our last home from a farmer). Some of their children attend private schools and have regular skiing holidays. They work very hard for what they've got, but are not "poor".

Last winter we could not afford to buy heating oil for our house, we are poor. 30p might not be a lot in your budget, but as our food budget is £35 a week it is for us, especially as we have a young child and drink a lot of milk.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Mon 17-Mar-14 17:20:40

I come from a farming family but thankfully my parents got out of it. None of my family are rich through farming. My grandparents have been abroad once to stay with family. I've never known any of them to have a new car (and even then they're not exciting). None of them could ever afford private school in a million years. We have two suicides in my mum's lifetime.

TheGirlFromIpanema Mon 17-Mar-14 17:21:31

I wonder if the difference in taste is that the supermarket milk is normally in plastic tubs rather than glass bottles?

Milkman style milk is not homogenised like supermarket stuffworra so it does taste different. I love the creamy bit off the top of the bottle and hate supermarket milk.

Farmers do take the hit when supermarkets discount their goods, here is an (admittedly old) article about it, but I assure you it still goes on, exactly the same.

"Discounts such as "buy one get one free" are not a generous gift from the supermarket. What they mean is that the farmer will be paid less � but he or she has no ability to negotiate or even be informed if their crop is put on special offer. If a crop has been over-ordered and doesn't sell, the supplier may have to pick up the cost of disposal."

francesdrake Mon 17-Mar-14 17:27:01

I live rurally too, and I don't know any rich dairy farmers. In fact, the ones I was at school with had to develop their own business sidelines away from supplying supermarkets, because the milk prices they were getting were so low as to be unworkable. If Tesco is taking the hit to make £1 milk a loss-leader, then fair enough, but there's enough PR mileage in supporting dairy farmers for that to have been well-publicised were it the case, so I'm betting it's not.

I really don't want to see super-shed farms full of cows crammed together and pumped full of chemicals to produce maximum yields for minimum outlay; for one thing, the transmission of hormones into the general public can't be a positive step, surely?

peggyundercrackers Mon 17-Mar-14 17:27:10

i agree OP - dairy farmers are going down the tubes - instead we are fed imported milk from countries that dont play by the same rules as we do... we buy all milk from the milkman now and dont buy any from the supermarkets - i think the govt. should step in and force them to put a minimum price on it.

ScrambledeggLDCcakeBOAK Mon 17-Mar-14 17:29:32

We'll growing up next to a dairy farm (that all but folded because of the price being paid for milk) I completely agree.

I think the big companies who are producing processed products could take the hit

But British fruit/veg meat milk producers should be paid a decent price for their product.

I'm not saying I have money to burn and don't like a good price but at the same time for me I go without or have less of something to try to and buy products that mean the producers can actually live from the money they make from their produce.

HadABadDay2014 Mon 17-Mar-14 17:30:42

I tend to buy what I can afford.

I do try and get the DC the best quality ingredients I can.

MoominMammasHandbag Mon 17-Mar-14 17:33:26

Agree with Frances, battery cows are a horrid thought.

Yes, you can't beat the top of the milk (though mostly DS2 swipes it).

MoreBeta Mon 17-Mar-14 17:39:25

By and large the only way a farmer can stay in business is increase in scale and reduce quality.

The farmer's customer is the supermarket - not the shopper. If the supermarket demands milk at 17p a litre there are very few ways of delivering that and still make a profit other than automated 24/7 milking on a massive scale with strict control over input costs and maximising production out of each cow over the shortest possible time.

ScrambledeggLDCcakeBOAK Mon 17-Mar-14 17:42:36

I would like to add though that there are some families who really have to buy what they do I was one of them! (£10p/w) But there are also families who could pay the extra 30p (without any affect to themselves) but don't and those are probably the people this thread would be aimed at.

I mean really though at the end of the day it's up to every individual to choose for themselves!

My way isn't anyone else's right way!

FuckyNell Mon 17-Mar-14 17:45:04

Duchy milk from waitrose is unhomogenised

pluCaChange Mon 17-Mar-14 18:04:40

I was coming on to say what noddy did: that if farmers go out of business, supply will fall, so we risk prices rising. After all, farmers need not even go out of business altogether, but go into another business, even lease out their land!

Loads of Ukraininan farmland is being leased by the Chinese, and, according to this article, the Chinese are making a bid for our milk, too (huge population, terrible quality controls leading to the baby milk scandal, etc.). Now, considering that Chinese demand has bumped up global prices for other commodities we need (oil, metals, etc.), surely what we risk happening here, too, is that we will be competing for our milk/ grocery stables on a global stage. Apparently, milk can sell for £3/litre in China. But if this happens, we can partly blame Big Supermarkets for having driven farmers into the arms of that other market. After all, why wouldn't they embrace a new market, when the existing one has proven so low-margin?

Owllady Mon 17-Mar-14 18:37:09

The arable farmer by me is loaded but the dairy farmer is poorer than me! They work non stop for very, very little. His children go to school with mine, to the local school. He even looks poor. I have posted about this before, but their was a report (village life) that their was a vagrant hanging around daily in one of the fields and it turned out it was him

Owllady Mon 17-Mar-14 18:37:47

There, not their.

This thread has got me thinking. Our milkman charges abt £1.40 for 2 litres (4 pints = 2.2 litres btw). Which is a lot more than £1 for 2.2 litres. But I might ask him where he gets it from and if its a local farm will try it to see if its nicer. With a view to ordering at the weekends as we aren't in monday to Friday.

Kendodd Mon 17-Mar-14 18:57:26

I used to get my milk from the milkman but got a sour bottle a couple of times so I stopped. I think it was because I didn't get the 'normal' milk, I used to have organic skimmed which was not so popular. I go to the supermarket now.

Oh and BTW I do know two dairy farmers, both comfortably off. I have no problem with farmers earning a good living, they work very hard, so good for them. I do object to the bleating about how poor farmer are, I don't know a single poor farmer. Poor farm workers, yes, but poor farmer, well, I don't know any and I know quite a few farmers.

hoarseoldfrog Mon 17-Mar-14 19:13:14

Plenty of poor farmers in Cornwall.... If your farm is small, you can't expand to the huge herd size needed to make milking viable. Some members of my farming family have got out of milking and are surviving in otherjobs etc but others are in a heartbreaking position where they are working long hours seven days a week just to keep a roof over their heads. Many farmers will have large debts.
I've certainly never met a farmer whose children are privately educated... Sounds more like landowners thanfarmers

Owllady Mon 17-Mar-14 19:19:06

I am sure the statistic was that if you had less than 600 cows you would find it difficult to break even
I will have a quick Google

Owllady Mon 17-Mar-14 19:21:43
ppeatfruit Tue 18-Mar-14 10:02:10

WRF to the sad subject of suicide and farmers\farmworkers; wasn't that caused by a certain pesticide\insecticide spray which is not allowed any more? Correct me if i'm wrong.

sunshinesue Tue 18-Mar-14 10:39:00

Co-op aren't ethical, I believe their treatment of dairy farmers is worse than any other big supermarket. There was a thread about it in chat the other day (not specifically about co-op but how ethical the supermarkets are in general)

deakymom Tue 18-Mar-14 11:00:43

you can buy the foreign milk at £1 a bottle but if you can afford to shop ethically pay the extra for the british to be fair i prefer british milk but my husband drinks a lot and leaves none for the kids so i have to buy cheap dont worry they will soon put the prices up

ReallyTired Tue 18-Mar-14 11:09:24

I don't think the OP is being unreasonable at all. What do posters think of fairtrade. Ie. paying a farmer in the third world enough so that he can feed his own children and send them to school.

ppeatfruit Tue 18-Mar-14 12:04:31

ReallyTired I do pay extra for fair trade but have read and heard things that make me wonder if the workers involved ALL get fair treatment [sad hmm. I'm pleased that people are trying though it must be very difficult to check that it works as it should. (sorry i don't do links).

ppeatfruit Tue 18-Mar-14 12:05:49

I also think that small farmers (who don't get many subsidies) should be paid fairly wherever they are,

GreggsOnLegs Tue 18-Mar-14 14:24:16

I agree in principle but where do you draw the line when shopping and feeding and clothing your family ethically, when you yourself are on a low unpredictable wage?
I work in a nmw job on a zero hours contract, not knowing how many hours work I'm going to get from one week to the next.
I shop as cheaply and ethically as possible, always buy free range eggs etc. But I can't do that with everything I buy. I have to look out for myself and my own family too.

Babymamaroon Tue 18-Mar-14 16:15:18

YANBU at all. I completely agree with you. I'd rather go without than buy from sources which do not hold animal welfare in the highest regard. I am simply not that selfish to not give a monkey's how they're treated. Pay the farmer well so they in turn can look after their animals.

mollypup Tue 18-Mar-14 16:27:34

I too am concerned about the welfare of animals and the price farmers are paid.

I know people need milk more than eggs but it really gets me down when I see families/anyone buying the cheapy eggs from tesco etc purely because they're cheaper.

I have too much of a conscience for any of that.

EEatingSoupForLunch Tue 18-Mar-14 16:34:19

I'm with you OP, I buy organic milk after seeing a programme about how cows are treated. My budget is similar to yours and we don't have much meat etc. because the ethical side matters too. I shop a lot in Co-op but it is noticeably much more expensive.

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