What’s next? Insight into QDO’s next steps to increase the farmgate price.

In March this year, QDO achieved a significant success with removing $1 litre milk from supermarket shelves.

This was not our end game; it was our start.

The campaign was intended to remove the artificial floor price created by marketing $1 milk. The incremental price increase that farmers have received as a result of this campaign is by no means enough.

Over the last few months we have had a few members ask what QDO is planning to push for a higher, sustainable farmgate price.

Our first campaign capitalised on consumer awareness and support for farmers facing drought conditions to spearhead the push to increase the farmgate price. While over 65% of Queensland is still drought declared consumers, those who live in our major population centres are receiving steady rain and don’t see that the drought continues and continues to put the future of our industry in jeopardy.

Is it fair? No. Is it logical? No. Unfortunately for us all, it is simply the fact that we are faced with.

While they may seem far removed from the negotiating table that we are used to, the first campaign showed us that the 24 million odd Australians consuming our product daily, are powerful allies for our industry.

Educating consumers about the impact that their purchasing behaviour has, is vital to negotiating a higher farmgate price and this is our first step.

QDO is working with other state organisations to develop the strategy. A lot of planning, meetings, consultations etc are taking place in the background as we develop the next campaign to increase the value across the whole dairy cabinet.

We will be consulting with processors, supermarkets, relevant politicians and government bodies over the coming months so that the campaign has the best chance of lasting success.

Simply put, there is no quick fix. Drought and many other factors continue to put pressure on farm production costs, and these won’t end any time soon. But to ensure that we get farmers a sustainable price, we need to work smarter and we need to work together.

If you would like to help once the campaign kicks off, please get in touch with the QDO office.

QDO President – Brian Tessmann

 

Dairy groups split on Coles move to buy directly from farmers.

The Coles move to buy milk directly from farmers has split dairy advocacy groups.

NSW Dairy Connect was glowing in its praise of the move, Australian Dairy Farmers cautiously welcomed it ,while the Queensland Dairyfarmers Organisation said it was difficult to trust the intentions of the supermarket giant.

As the new arrangements will apply only in Victoria and central and southern NSW, the QDO stance at this stage is largely academic as its members won't be affected but it reflects the Queensland organisation's moves to position itself as a leading national organisation.

Coles announced last week it would start sourcing milk directly from farmers in Victoria and southern and central NSW from July.

Saputo Australia would continue to pack the milk for the supermarket chain's discount lines, which have sold for $1.10 a litre since March.

Coles has put out the call to Victorian and NSW farmers interested in contracting their milk production to send in an expression of interest.

It said was also "looking for opportunities" to expand its direct buying footprint to other milk-producing regions.

Dairy Connect welcomed the announcement that Coles was side-stepping the processor in NSW and Victoria.

"While stakeholders had yet to have access to the fine print involved with the proposal, on face value, it provides a pathway to the future for the milk supply chain," Dairy Connect president Graham Forbes said .

"Notionally, the proposal should deliver price-certainty for up to three years for dairy producers supplying Coles house brand milk."

The plan would address a number of complaints the farmers had about the existing system.

But QDO said while Woolworths had a direct relationship with farmers through its Farmers' Own brand, this was a premium brand that sold at more than $1.50/L, while the Coles deal would apply to its private label milk, that sold for $1.10/L.

QDO said it expected dairy farmers who supplied Coles to receive the full 10c/L the supermarket had promised would be directly passed on to farmers when it lifted the retail price earlier this year.

It also expressed concern about the potential power imbalance between Coles and its suppliers.
The QDO said farmers, as small business owners, already struggled to negotiate with multinational processors for a fair farmgate price. 

It asked what hope would an individual farmer have to negotiate a fair and sustainable farmgate price when up against the might of Coles.

"At this stage, the nuts and bolts of how and what this relationship and process will look like is pure speculation, with only Coles knowing truly what its intentions are," QDO executive officer Eric Danzi said.

The supermarket should be lifting its price of fresh milk to pre-2010 levels.

"What we need to ensure is that this does not give Coles even more power over dairy farmers and does not allow Coles to revert to $1/L pricing," Mr Danzi said.Australian Dairy Farmers said more competition for milk was healthy and the Coles deal had the potential to provide greater transparency within the dairy supply chain between farmers and retailers.

But although saying it was hopeful, it wanted further information about how the deal would work.
It also called on Coles to commit to ensuring that $1/L milk never returned to its shelves.

The most unsustainable part of the dairy industry was the lack of value being returned to farmers through the domestic market.

ADF said it was imperative value was delivered through the supply chain, with farmers receiving their fair share for the hard work, risk and investment they had in this industry. 

This included farmers securing their fair share of future retail price increases across the dairy cabinet.

Source: Farm Online. This story first appeared on Australian Dairyfarmer

Can we trust them? QDO takes on watchdog role following Coles' announcement.

Coles’ announcement that they intend to bypass processors and start a direct relationship with dairy farmers came as surprise to most within the industry and many are trying to determine what position to take. Given Coles’ previous history with the dairy industry, it is difficult to trust the intentions of the supermarket giant.

While Woolworths has had a direct relationship with farmers through Farmers’ Own, this brand competes with other premium branded white milks at a price point above $3 for 2 litres. Coles, however, intends to sell its farm direct milk as its private label.

Coles has previously committed to ensuring all of the additional 10c/L added to its milk price is passed through to farmers. It would be expected that this latest announcement will see dairy farmers who supply Coles receive 10c/L, or around $1.30/kg of milk solids, above previous prices they received.

In their statement, Coles cites its existing ‘successful’ direct producer relationships to show that this proposed model can work to provide health profit margins for both retailers and the farmers.

The 2018 ACCC report into the dairy industry identified the imbalance of power within the value chain as the key to the failure of the dairy industry. The Mandatory Code of Conduct for the dairy industry, that is currently being drafted as a direct result of this report, seeks to address the imbalance of power between farmers and the processors.

As individual small business owners, farmers have struggled to negotiate with multinational processors for a fair farm gate price. One must question then, what hope an individual farmer will have to negotiate a fair and sustainable farmgate price when they go up against the might of Coles.

 The fact is that Coles is capitalising on consumer sympathy for the dairy industry. The massive support that consumers gave dairy farmers during last year’s Drought Relief campaign has prompted Coles to use this to boost sales of its discount product lines over branded milks. Consumers will undoubtedly believe that this new arrangement has been designed to benefit the farmer and therefore support it.

 “At this stage, the nuts and bolts of how and what this relationship and process will look like is pure speculation, with only Coles knowing truly what its intentions are” said QDO Executive Officer, Eric Danzi.

 “We need to work with the supermarket giant to increase the RRP price of fresh milk to pre-2010 pricing. In today’s market that would equate to around $1.50/L. which would allow farmers to receive a fair farmgate price.

 What we need to ensure is that this does not give Coles even more power over dairy farmers and does not allow Coles to revert to $1/L pricing”.

 <ENDS>

 For media enquiries please contact Sarah Ferguson 0424 416 317.

Coles to cut out milk processors, and deal directly with dairy farmers.

Coles has announced it will bypass processors and contract milk directly from dairy farmers in NSW and Victoria from July 1.

Key points:

  • From July 1, Coles will bypass milk processors and deal directly with farmers in NSW and Victoria

  • Coles has not revealed a price, but says it will be a "competitive farm gate price"

  • The cost of homebrand milk will remain unchanged, despite the deal

In the past, Coles has used processors to source milk for its homebrand products, with Norco contracted in NSW and Queensland and Saputo sourcing milk from Victoria and Southern NSW.

The new model will offer longer term contracts that allow farmers to choose from one, two or three-year contracts.

It marks a shift to a model more in line with competitor Woolworths, where the supermarket will be able to offer a direct price to farmers.

Coles chief operation officer Greg Davis said in a press release it would offer a "competitive farm gate price", but did not specifically reveal a price.

"In addition to offering a fair and competitive price, dairy farmers will have more choice regarding the length of contract and more certainty around income," he said.

"If the model works as we hope it will, we will look for opportunities to expand the footprint to other milk-producing regions and potentially other products in the dairy case."

The ABC understands Coles representatives have met with farmers in Victoria over the past few months.

Coles said it would also contribute an additional $1.9 million for research into the Coles Sustainable Dairy Development Group.

The cost of homebrand milk for two and three-litre milk will remain unchanged at $2.20 and $3.30 respectively.

President of farm group Dairy Connect, Graham Forbes, said Coles appeared to be adopting a model common among UK supermarkets such as Tesco.

It was unclear how Coles contracts and pricing would be structured, however some farmers were hopeful long-term contracts would help give them more security.

Coles said it would offer a guaranteed price for two years and a floor price for the third year.

"It will put a bit more competition out there in the marketplace, and let's hope it lifts the price to farmers and gives them some long-term security," Mr Forbes said.

"It will be very interesting to see how it impacts on Saputo suppliers currently in NSW.

"There is a lot of competition from Parmalat at the moment, Lion has been a bit quiet while it's up for sale, but it will be a very interesting few weeks to see how the processors respond."

David Inall, representing Australian Dairy Farmers, said he was surprised by the announcement.

"It came out of the blue, it's early days, we're not aware that any farmers are contracted to Coles at this stage, but we look forward to more detail around contract and prices," Mr Inall said.

"They have told us that they will offer a price that they believe will be in the top quartile of what is currently on offer, which is certainly an encouraging sign, which will make it very competitive."

Mr Inall expressed concern that this could lead to a return to $1 per litre milk.

"But we'd also expect that this will not see a return to $1 per litre milk, that they have not created this model to slide back to $1 dollar per litre milk — that's a debate we don't want to have again," he said.

Processors face fierce competition for milk

According to food industry analyst and director of Fresh Agenda, Joanne Bills, there were reasons why supermarkets were moving to deal directly with farmers.

"In the UK supermarkets have found that you can add transparency to the supply chain and also implement specific processes, standards, or animal welfare requirements," she said.

"But in Australia it could be looking to avoid some of the fallout from the $1 per litre milk, similar to the way that Woolworths has with its 'Farmer's Own' brand."

Ms Bills believed that, while the fresh milk market represented only a fraction of the Australian dairy industry, the move to deal directly with farmers would add new competition and complexities for processors.

Coles declined an interview with the ABC.

Source: ABC News