Ian Potter remarks in his newsletter (12th April) that some current retail cheese contracts look “irresponsible” and fail to recognise the upward trend in farm gate milk prices.
He continues: On the front page of today’s Farmers Guardian the BRC have been allowed to get away with the comment “but farmers need to acknowledge cheese is a globally traded commodity with prices set on the world stage”. I realise they are there to defend retailers but surely not to tell porkies. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) needs educating . . .
Out of the 410,000 tonnes or so of cheese we consume in the UK we produce around 320,000 tonnes with 80,000 tonnes coming from Ireland, a bit from Holland and New Zealand.
British and, for that matter, Irish cheese is not globally traded and if members of the BRC want to import their cheese from the USA or South Africa then crack on lads. (Ed: note fatalities in USA due to imported cheese, reported in December.) With ASDA having found bute in its Smart Price corned beef produced in France, and the whole horsemeat scandal with 50,000 tonnes of Dutch beef products recalled, when will the retailers, discounters and food service learn*.
The main customer for Irish cheese is the UK and the lion’s share of UK produced cheese is domestically consumed.
As the Scottish NFU President Nigel Miller stated this week, “I suspect the general public will be disappointed to hear that, at the moment, the rewards from cheese production are largely filling retailer coffers” and that the cheese market is dysfunctional.
*Earlier references: in view of the recent horse meat scandal, FFA Chairman David Handley is calling on all CEOs of the retail industry to clearly show country of origin on all purchased cheese. Alistair Driver in the Farmers Guardian adds: “Mr Handley claims ‘double standards’ were at play as imported cheese often does not meet the standards asked of British farmers, for example, when it comes to requirements on cell count levels which measure milk quality and bacteria levels . . .