Words: Shamim de Brún
It’s been a big week for milk. Supermarket chains Lidl Ireland and Supervalu led the charge with ten-cent and unspecified price cuts, respectively, for a two-litre container of milk. Tesco and Aldi are due to cut their prices in the coming days.
It’s a welcome reprieve for shoppers who’ve been feeling the squeeze. Milk prices had risen by a staggering twenty-four per cent over the past year, according to the Central Statistics Office. But while some customers are revelling in the savings, Irish farmers are expressing concern. The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has warned that a milk price war among supermarkets could threaten the long-term sustainability of fresh milk production in Ireland.
Keith O’Boyle, a representative for the IFA, thinks there needs to be more “common sense” in addressing the costs of milk production. He doubts that supermarkets and retailers will take a financial hit when they drop the price of milk. O’Boyle believes that history will show that they “always” pass it back to the primary producer, i.e., the farmer. “Unfortunately, it is the farmer that milks cows all year round that is ultimately going to be the loser in this,” he said. Adding that costs on the farm have risen “outrageously.”
Labour finance and enterprise spokesperson Ged Nash agrees. He described the price cuts as a “tacit acceptance that Irish consumers are being ripped off.” He thinks that supermarkets need to commit to meaningful price reductions across the range of products that they’re selling. After all, if they can drop the price of milk, why not reduce the price of other groceries that are ripping people off?
It remains to be seen whether this move will spur more meaningful price reductions across the grocery sector. Or whether it’s just a one-off publicity stunt. Only time will tell.
Elsewhere on CHAR: These are the 4 best early birds in Dublin under €30