Warning on fresh milk supply

10 Jul, 2018 04:00 AM
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THE BIG ISSUE: Derek Schoen, pictured on his Corowa farm
... consumers should not be surprised if fresh Australian milk started disappearing from shelves ...
THE BIG ISSUE: Derek Schoen, pictured on his Corowa farm "Killeneen" with dog Nikki, says the dairy crisis was among the biggest issues during his time as NSW Farmers president. Picture: MARK JESSER

Consumers will be the eventual losers if supermarkets stick with their $1-a-litre milk price, says outgoing NSW Farmers president Derek Schoen.

Mr Schoen, who will not seek re-election at the NSW Farmers annual conference in Sydney later this month, said the dairy crisis was one of the major issues during his three years in the role and without change, he predicted a future where all good quality Australian fresh milk was exported.

“Coles and Woolworths will be responsible for the future dietary intake of milk in Australia, and it will be powdered and UHT milk,” he said.

“They are not buying any loyalty from dairy farmers to supply them with fresh milk because they have just absolutely hammered them with their $1-a-litre milk.”

He said if domestic returns did not improve consumers should not be surprised if fresh Australian milk started disappearing from shelves as dairy farmers looked at more lucrative markets.

He believed processors agreed to supplying supermarket brand milk under the belief “belligerent” supermarkets would source their milk elsewhere if their supply terms were not met.

“I wouldn’t want to be a dairy farmer, it is such a volatile industry currently,” Mr Schoen said.

“They’ve been through hell and back with the collapse of Murray Goulburn.

“I think we’re going to really have to tackle the supermarkets … if this $1-a-litre milk continues for another couple of years there’s a real possibility Australians would have only powdered and UHT milk to drink.

“All our prime, fresh, milk will go to China because they’ll pay $9 for a litre of milk, and here we’re stupidly trying to flog it off for $1-a-litre in the supermarkets.

“If China or Asia wants to pay $9 or $10 a litre for milk that’s where our milk will go.”

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