Organic milk in need of premium hike

THE organic dairy industry needs an increase in premium over conventional milk if it is to grow, industry figures have said.

The recession saw a drop in sales of organic dairy products, with 2009 sales falling back 5.5 per cent on the previous year.

This year the sector has returned to growth, but the co-operative said a lack of organic farmers was keeping supplies tight and an increase in premium was needed to allow the sector to progress.

Speaking at an organic dairying conference organised by Hi Peak and Devenish at the Yeo Valley conference centre, Bristol, chief operating officer at Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative Richard Hampton said: “We have seen a relative improvement in organic sales in the marketplace.

“If you look at lost ground it is clear the premium is not where it should be.”

Figures show like-for-like supply figures for April were 15 per cent down on last year and Mr Hampton said no new farmers were likely to enter the organic industry until 2015.

Mr Hampton added: “There is nothing coming through the pipeline for the next few years.”

He said a typical premium over conventional milk was about 6-8ppl but it needed to be between 8 and 10ppl. And he stressed the premium for organic over conventional milk had to be right before new entrants were encouraged to come into the sector.

But Mr Hampton was confident about the growth prospects for the industry.

He said: “Something like 10 per cent of the industry left last year and 10 per cent the year before. This year will not be anything like that.

“[Organic accounts for] only 3.5 per cent of production. You cannot tell me there is not room to grow this to seven or eight per cent.”

The Soil Association claimed there was a lack of support for dairy products during the recession and claimed this was the reason for the drop in sales.

Policy director Peter Melchett said: “It is not natural to see organic sales fall during a recession. It is because we do not have a lot of Government support and we have a lot of sales through supermarkets.

“I would have liked to have seen supermarkets do less to reduce organic products. Apart from Waitrose, all the others took organic off the shelves and we now know when they put the products back on the shelves they bought it.”

Readers' comments (13)

  • Does this not show you Organic was a fad. People now realise it was built on a myth !

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  • People want organic, until they have to pay for it.

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  • I want organic, I pay for it, and it's a better product. That's not a myth, it's all true!

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  • I buy organic because I believe in the way the soil and animals are treated.

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  • Organic dairy farming gets pooh-poohed so to speak because it's a system that challenges conventional and intensive dairy farming systems in terms of animal and environmental welfare.
    Organic dairy farming is the perfect counter-balance to industrial dairying as peddled by the so-called progressives.

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  • please will both of above explain in detail what are the differances between both systems as most organic farms i know are large scale

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  • Who said anything about large scale? Organic dairy farmers are however more extensive in their approach to stocking rates, they eschew the use of antibiotics, no artificial fertilizers or GM permitted, grazing fresh pasture is of course central to their ideals and pushing for high yields isn't part of organic dairy farming thinking and as a result the cows are longer-lived and not prematurely milked to exhaustion.
    Our soils, rivers, and seas benefit from the organic approach too. It's all linked, you can't farm in isolation without knock-on effects for our environment.

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  • What a load of rubbish the above comment is.

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  • Explain why the comment(s) in question are rubbish? I'd be interested to get your take on why farming with a conscience is such a bad thing?

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  • Anonymous | 1 August 2013 10:53 am
    I want organic, I pay for it, and it's a better product. That's not a myth, it's all true!

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