Coffee chains must “pay a bit more” for milk

THE HEAD of one of the UK’s biggest milk buyers and dairy processors has suggested that the likes of Costa and Starbucks need to pay more for their milk.

Foodservice Footprint whole-milk-pic2-300x300 Coffee chains must "pay a bit more" for milk Foodservice News and Information Out of Home sector news  Starbucks NFU Mark Allen Dairy Crest Daily Telegraph Costa CH&Co British Retail Consortium














In a comment piece for the Daily Telegraph today, Mark Allen, chief executive of Dairy Crest, wrote: “We’ll need the continuing support of our large customers, in particular the major retailers and the other large “end users” of milk, such as the major coffee shop chains who need to pay a bit more for their milk.”


Allen said that a number of the company’s customers were “already helping farmers by paying more for milk”.


Dairy Crest, which supplies around 15% of British milk production, was one of the firms targeted by farmers in blockades this summer. Since then, it has announced that it is increasing the amount if pays for milk by 3p to 29p on contracts for liquid milk. This is on top of the decision to reverse a planned price cut in August.


It is not the first time foodservice companies have been targeted in the row over milk prices. In July, the British Retail Consortium took a swipe at the sector for not paying enough for milk.


On the NFU’s website, retailers have been quick to publish details of their milk contracts, though the coffee shops and foodservice businesses have kept information to a minimum.


CH&Co is one of the few companies that has shared some of the challenges contract caterers face compared to retail – and why details on pricing need to be viewed in context.


In an exclusive comment for, CEO Caroline Fry wrote: “While the retailer’s customer chooses how much of his own money he wants to spend on milk, possibly influenced by knowledge of what the supermarket itself pays, the model is very different in foodservice.


“The issue, of course, is that we contract caterers typically don’t spend our own money – we purchase on behalf of a client.  The decision is often taken out of our hands as to how much we pay.  We have a wide range of clients and whilst some are well informed and supportive of a fair deal of the dairy farmer, others might well be more concerned about their pennies.


“For us to take a stand and insist on paying a transparently fair price for milk, we need the support of our clients,” she added.


The likes of Starbucks and Costa have, to date, provided little information on the prices they are paying.


  • October’s Foodservice Footprint includes an analysis of the milk pricing debate