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What's to blame for milk price plunge?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 - 01:42

Farmers in Britain and Europe say they are facing financial ruin with falls in the price of milk, as global dairy prices hit a 12-year low. China's slowing growth isn't helping, as commodities adjust to a 'new normal'. Ivor Bennett reports.

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They say there's no use crying over spilt milk. But across Europe, farmers are hoping protests like this will at least help highlight their cause - that falling prices are driving them out of business. British dairy farmers like Nigel Stacey are blaming retailers. SOUNDBITE (English) NIGEL STACEY, DAIRY FARMER, SAYING: "It undermines the value of the milk, devalues the work we do, and puts our livelihoods in jeopardy." Farmers say a litre of milk costs 30 pence to produce. But the average price they're paid has fallen to less than 24 pence. It's not just a European problem. The UN says global dairy prices have dropped by over 7 percent in the last year, as supply outstrips demand. IG's Chris Beauchamp. SOUNDBITE (English) CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, IG, SAYING: "In the UK obviously we focus on the distance between farmers and supermarkets, but both of them are sort of mere players in a far larger drama. Dairy prices are at a 12-year low. I think that is partially because you do have, again this is one of these commodity markets that is in heavy oversupply mode, and that is driving down the price as well as weakening growth." The world's biggest dairy exporter - New Zealand's Fonterra - has been forced to cut more than 500 jobs - with warnings of more to come. It seems a long time since 2013, when global dairy prices soared to record highs, driven in part by demand from China. SOUNDBITE (English) CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, IG, SAYING: "We do have to adjust again to a new normal. Commodity markets, whether they be raw materials, or soft commodities or indeed agricultural commodities, got used to the assumption that Chinese growth was almost a sure thing. And that definitely isn't the case anymore." Exacerbated by Russia's ban on EU imports, the industry says more than one milk producer per day in Britain over the last year went out of business.

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What's to blame for milk price plunge?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 - 01:42