Poll boost for dairy farmers

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The struggling dairy industry has today (March 18) received a welcome boost after the results from a new poll reveal that people are willing to pay more for regional dairy products if it helps safeguard the industry.

The news will come as some relief to West Country dairy farmers who are continuing to battle record low milk prices.

The findings from the survey, which was commissioned by law firm Stephens Scown, polled more than 1,000 people across Cornwall and Devon.

Dairy farmer Matthew Rowe (l) with Stephens Scown managing partner, Phil Reed
Dairy farmer Matthew Rowe (l) with Stephens Scown managing partner, Phil Reed

The report shows 85% of people are prepared to pay more for local dairy products if it helps secure the long-term future of milk production in the region. And almost half of those interviewed (42%) are willing to pay at least 20% more for the dairy they purchase.

The findings also reveal that 82% of those interviewed understand and appreciate local farmers are not being paid enough for the milk they produce. And whilst 87% of people said they prefer to buy local dairy products, only 11% currently do so regularly.

Dairy farmer Matthew Rowe, of Two Waters Foot near Liskeard in Cornwall, welcomed the findings.

“This is something to celebrate, especially after months of negative headlines,” he said.

“Whilst this isn’t going to change purchase habits overnight I hope that by taking a pledge to buy local dairy it will make people stop and think when they’re next shopping.”

The report also reveals that 78% of people would buy more local dairy products if they are clearly identified as local and seven out of 10 people questioned, admitted they’d be prepared actively to support a ‘buy local’ dairy campaign.

Ruth Huxley, MD of Cornwall Food & Drink, acknowledges that a clear sense of identity on a product goes a long way in helping consumers make more informed purchases.

“A product that tells a story of integrity, quality and provenance is a story that consumers are eager to hear and the results from this study prove people will pay good money for local dairy produce,” she said.

“The findings from this report have also highlighted that there’s a real appetite for residents in Devon and Cornwall to understand better and to appreciate where dairy products come from.”