Dairy campaign influences consumers, poll finds

TWO-THIRDS of consumers believe dairy farmers need to be paid more, with nearly one in five planning to change the way they buy milk as a result of the hugely successful SOS Dairy campaign.

A number of leading supermarket chains have pushed up the price they pay for their milk over the past week, while four major UK milk buyers have cancelled or postponed plans to cut the price of milk on August 1, following weeks of protests and extensive media coverage of the campaign to reverse the cuts.

A poll by YouGov for The Grocer magazine reveals that consumers have been made aware of the plight facing dairy farmers and, in many cases, are willing to change their habits to support them. Key findings from the poll of 1,766 people taken on July 24 include:

  • 83 per cent are aware of the protests.
  • 67 per cent believe farmers can’t make ends meet and must be paid more, even if this means milk becomes more expensive.
  • 66 per cent say retailers are to blame for low farmgate prices, with 29 per cent blaming processors.
  • 19 per cent say they will change the way they buy milk as a result of the protests. 11 per cent plan to switch retailers.

The poll showed limited awareness of individual retailer policies, however. Just over a quarter, 26 per cent said they were aware The Co-op Group had raised its milk price, with 22 per cent mentioning Morrisons and 13 per cent Asda.

However, consumers were largely unaware that some retailers did more than others to support farmers before the SOS Dairy campaign kicked off. There was negligible awareness (8 to 10 per cent), for example, of the cost of production premiums paid by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.

YouGov consumer consulting director Rob Cushen described the findings as ‘extraordinary’, particularly regarding the proportion planning to change the way the shop.

The Grocer estimated that, if the poll results were reflected nationwide and shoppers followed through on their promise, it would mean 4.3 million shoppers changing their behaviour in some way, and 2.64 million planning to switch retailers.

The findings reinforce the messages coming from the public throughout the campaign. During an online FG debate on the crisis, one reader asked:

 “What can the public do? As your average member of the public I don’t see a 5 ppl rise deterring the public majority from spending more to support British farmers. Nationwide trends are in strong support of local, British products, lesser carbon footprint and “food miles”, and fair trade in foreign countries.

“Surely this is the first step for retailers - those of which are thinking in the long term will realise that they will gain greater consumer loyalty from a decent price rise +farmer support than a highly competitive price compared with other retailers.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • just goes to show you cant fool all of the people with your schemes retailers. Your delusions of using milk to gain customers and rip farmers off is being found out by the people who matter most, get your hands in your pockets pay a fair price for your produce and show some respect

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  • Do retailer and processors go to work and give all there salary to the boss because thats what they are asking farmers to do!
    Then they expect ever higher standards so they can give away the milk as a basket filler!
    Come on put milk in the spot light and dont degrade this natural wholesome product PAY THE DAIRY FARMERS WHAT THEY NEED TO MAKE THE UK DAIRY INDUSTRY PROFITABLE this will benifit all

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