Friday, 25 July 2014

Concerns over price of milk

Katy Clark MP is supporting Saltcoats-based milkman Stewart Currie over concerns that the dominant position of two major companies could be having a negative impact on the price of milk and door-step deliveries.

Following a meeting with Mr Currie, the local MP has written to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) asking them to investigate possible price-fixing in the dairy industry.

Ms Clark explained, “I have written to the CMA to raise concerns over the behaviour of milk companies and their dominance in the marketplace. Mr Currie is a local milkman and has given me examples of a supermarket chain selling milk for 30p less than he is forced to pay when buying from the same dairy company that supplies the supermarket.

“This undercutting has led to a steep decline in the home-delivery of milk. Mr Currie has informed me that Graham’s Dairies have purchased Quothquan Dairies, which was the third largest dairy in Scotland. As such, Mr Currie is now only able to purchase from either Wiseman Dairies or Graham’s Dairies."

In 2008 the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) dropped an investigation into six Scottish dairies accused of price fixing, including Graham’s, Quothquan and Wiseman. The OFT had alleged collusion on pricing, price rises and arrangements not to compete. The watchdog said there was insufficient evidence against the firms, despite two-years earlier stating it had provisionally found they had engaged in price-fixing or market sharing.

Of the current situation, Katy Clark said, “The price rises continue to place a burden on small and medium businesses, and are threatening the already struggling work of milkmen and women. These workers provide a vital service for the elderly or those who are house-bound, as well as being a visible presence within our communities.”

The Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran has asked the Competition and Markets Authority to “investigate thoroughly” the concerns raised with her by Stewart Currie.

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