Praise for Woolworths

By Country News

Woolworths has jumped on the front foot by increasing the price of its $1/litre milk range, but Coles and ALDI have said they are not going to follow suit.

The supermarket giant increased the price of its home brand milk range, from February 19, by 10¢/litre, eight years after $1/litre milk was first introduced.

‘‘As the price change goes national, it will deliver higher milk prices to more than 450 Australian dairy farmers supplying into Woolworths branded fresh milk,’’ Woolworths Group chief executive officer Brad Banducci said.

The extra 10¢ will be put back into farmers’ pockets.

‘‘The additional money will be returned to farmers, via their processors in line with the usual payment cycles,’’ UDV president Paul Mumford said.

‘‘This is a positive step in the right direction and we encourage other retailers to recognise the importance of this and take immediate action.’’

The UDV was not the only backer of the announcement, with Australian Dairy Farmers chief executive officer David Inall calling it a ‘‘game changer’’ and NSW Farmers Association dairy committee chair Erika Chesworth describing it as a ‘‘huge win for dairy farmers’’.

A Coles spokesperson said a price increase to its milk would hurt customers.

‘‘Coles knows that many customers in Australia face cost of living pressures and doesn’t want them to be disadvantaged through price increases,’’ the spokesperson said.

‘‘Coles is committed to finding a better model that can be adopted by the industry to assist Australian farmers.

‘‘In the meantime, Coles will continue to look at ways to support Australian farmers, including by collecting customer donations at our supermarket registers nationally from Monday, February 25, until further notice.’’

ALDI has also decided not to increase the price of its discounted milk range.

Coles and ALDI’s decisions to not follow Woolworths’ lead has been slammed by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

‘‘Publicity stunts like asking shoppers to donate at the counter to help struggling farmers are just a smokescreen to hide the fact they pay bugger all for milk,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

‘‘The farmers wouldn’t need donations from the public if Coles and Aldi paid fair prices. Publicity stunts won’t change that.’’

Gunbower farmer Stephen Brown questioned how much of an impact the 10¢ would have on-farm.

‘‘It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,’’ Mr Brown said.

‘‘The bloody supermarkets aren’t paying us — they are just the retailer.

‘‘It must be up to the manufacturers.

‘‘If Fonterra and Saputo and Bega want to keep producing yoghurts, cheeses and butters they are going to be short of milk and I think they will have to say (to supermarkets) ‘you will have to pay us $1.50 before we supply you’.’’