Milk price volatility hits school scheme

Dairy farmers have got a reminder of the effects of milk price volatility in the bills for their schoolchildrens’ milk, writes Stephen Cadogan.

Charges in the school milk scheme have been increased €7 per term by Glanbia Ireland, which the company says is due to the strong rise in commodity foodstuff prices.

Glanbia have increased the price of milk from 18c to 28c, for 189ml of fresh milk.

The company said they had held the price of school milk for years, but were now left with no alternative, due to “exceptional dairy price movements”.

The milk is part of the EU School Milk Scheme managed by the National Dairy Council, and funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, at €252,000 per year, with EU financial support of €900,000 per year.

More than 1,000 schools avail of the EU school milk scheme, including 862 national schools. More than 40,000 pupils get milk. As part of the scheme, school milk fridges are supplied by the National Dairy Council.

The price rise illustrates dairy volatility problems, with low prices causing financial problems for dairies and farmers, but high prices resulting in product substitution by consumers, which can be difficult or impossible to reverse.

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