Over 1,000 dairy farms close in UK in 3 years

The number of people in the UK following a vegan or plant-based diet continues to rise, and with more and more people opting for dairy-free alternatives. And with the dairy-free industry showing no signs of slowing down, and prices of milk plummeting, dairy farmers have been feeling the strain, with 1 in 10 closing in the last 3 years…

cows close up on pasture

In 2014, one in four (23%) launches in the UK dairy drinks and milk market were rice, nut, grain and seed-based drinks, indicating an increased focus on non-dairy by manufacturers and retailers. The dairy-free industry itself grew by over 155% between 2012-2014, a figure that has continued to grow over the past 18 months.

But it’s not just the rise in plant-based alternatives that has cause 1 in 10 dairy farms to close their doors in the last 3 years, this is also down to large retailers selling their products at less than cost price, and often at lower prices than bottled water. Retailer price wars between large supermarkets (particularly with low-cost supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi increasing in popularity in recent years) have seen the average price paid for milk fall in recent years, and consumers can now pick up for a four pint bottle for as little as 89p. The Vegan Society said they were horrified to see that the suffering of the animals on dairy farms, and their lives were deemed to be of so little value with the incredibly low retail prices placed on these products by large retailers.

 “The Vegan Society is saddened to learn that farmers are being forced out of their livelihoods but we have clearly seen this dairy milk crisis coming for a long time. For years we have seen the demand for dairy drop, and the sales of plant-based milks increase exponentially. Consumers increasingly want healthy, ethical alternatives that do not cost the earth or cause animal pain and suffering. Sales clearly show that people are willing to pay a little more for a product that is good for them. The large range of plant-based milks are tasty and healthy, particularly the unsweetened versions. People are now more aware that dairy milk is not needed to maintain good health. In fact, a growing number of studies point out the health disadvantages of dairy milk” – Jasmijn de Boo (former CEO of The Vegan Society)

In 2015, Tesco pledged a premium price for dairy products sold in their stores to pay a fairer price to farmers, but have recently faced backlash from the vegan community after placing labels next to cows milk in stores that states: “Every pint helps care for dairy cows” in an attempt to entice customers back to buying cows milk.

Tesco image thumbnail

Concerned customers and animal rights activists state that in actual fact the milk industry is one of the cruellest and most exploitative in farming, and every pint of milk contributes to the pain and suffering of dairy cows. You can read The Vegan Society’s open letter to Tesco here.

In protest of Tesco’s misleading and false advert, a petition has been created to ask Tesco to withdraw their “Every pint helps care for dairy cows” advert. You can sign the petition here