CHOICE membership

Do you buy branded milk from the supermarket to support farmers?


I think there could be confusion with fresh verses processed.

For fresh products (meats, fruits and vegetables), most of that sold in Australia is Australian as it can’t be imported due to biosecurity concerns. Australia is also exports a significant amount of our primary products as it can compete within the world market. Australia is know internationally as a quality, cost effective producer, and in some cases, foreign consumers will pay a premium for Australian products (milk power, avocados and cereals are examples).

Manufactured food products are very different as their treatment through processing has made them suitable to import (biosecurity risk removed or diminished). Such products can be imported and may have different quality to the manufactured Australian product.

The import of processed foods have been occurred more in the last 20 years, and some of that is to compete with low cost base retailers which have products which are dominated by imports (either imported as is, or imported ingredients mixed and packaged in Australia).

There are also some products which Australia does not produce or produce in commercial quantities, and have historically been imported (coconut products is a good example). These there are limited or no Australian substitutes.

The removal of tariffs about 40-50 years and more recently adoption of free trade agreements allowed Australia to compete in the international marketplace unimpeded and fairly. Fairly being that it was trying to compete with subsidised local produce or tariff added to Australian produce to make them noncompetitive.

Something all economics agree (yes, it is surprising as usually if there are two economists in a room, you will get two different views) on is that free trade (without tariffs or subsidies) has help the Australian economy enormously in the past 40-50 years (along with other things like floating the dollar etc).

The US has imposed tariffs on selected imported goods and are finding out that these tariffs hurt local industry and consumers as they ultimately pay more and local costs go up.

While tariffs and subsidies (which in effect nominating a minimum milk price is) is not good for the economy, consumers or our farmers in the long run.

As outlined above, what is needed is a free market not manipulated by any one group (government, processors, retailer, consumer etc). Such will ensure that all farmers receive on average, a good price for produce. Yes, there will be times where there is a abundance of the same product on the market which pushes down prices to possibly less than the cost of production, but this are not a norm and the taxation system allows farmers to spread thair income from good years to bad in such circumstances to maximise their average incomes.


Thank you for that explanation. You can tell that I’m not an organic chemist :wink:


Then why do I see, from time to time. “product of USA” stickers on oranges.

Absolutely agree with this sentiment


Some fresh products are allowed to be imported from countries where the products don’t pose biosecurity risk.

There are also other exceptions like asparagus from Peru, stone fruit from from the US during the off season (Australia’s winter months)… but generally most fresh meat, fruit and vegetables are locally grown.


We also import apples, nashi pears, asparagus, oranges, grapes, cherries, and other fruits and vegetables from other countries which include but are not limited to Chile, China, Brazil, some also from NZ but originating from other countries.


As if the dairy farmers do not have enough problems with $1/L supermarket milk, this article paints an even gloomier picture.



Sadly, I am one of the guilty ones buying home brand cheese. ON an age pension I really do need to count my pennies so given that I dont have milk at all (but buy branded cream) I get Coles Colby. When I was working and had a decent income, I was a Bega fan.


We only buy branded milk.

My wife only drinks Pauls Physical for her osteopenia and I only drink Dairy Farmers Heart Active after my cholesteral was high some years ago.



I don’t blame you. The pension basically relies on people not getting paid properly


I guess it does. I could stop allocating pension funds to potential purchases and spend more on food, but my food budget is $250 a fortnight, and I mostly get fresh vegies from a fruit and veg shop a couple of suburbs over, they also sell locally produced breads. But for meat and dairy… its Coles, or a 10k trip to an alternative supermarket. The local butcher isnt even getting a look-in from me… poor bugger moved into the coles owned shopping centre and is now paying a bomb in rental. I used to shop with them when they were down the road and much cheaper.


If you live in a capital or regional city, there are usually Asian type butchers which are significantly cheaper than the supermarkets. They also will have a greater range of cuts as well. If you buy a few weeks worth and freeze, there are big savings to be made.


Not with my limited budget and freezer space (only whats in the top of a 340L fridge.) Nice idea though, just not workable for me.


At last. Some good news for the struggling dairy farmers.



While this is great to see the price rises, I think the real reason we have had such low prices is really at the hands of the producers of the end product. If Parmalat and so on who have up to now been paying the farmers as little as they have, had instead paid a fair price at the gate the supermarkets would have had to charge a higher price from the beginning. This has been almost like a race to the bottom on who could pay the least amount to farmers and thus make the most out of selling to the businesses who then on-sold the product to the consumers.

Does anyone think that Pauls, Dairy Farmers, and similar big corporate have passed on anything more from their own branded products to farmers than what they passed on to them for the Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and “Black and Gold” similar Store brands per litre? I for one don’t think so. The only brands that appear to have a fair return to farmers are the other labels such as Maleny Dairies.

In this Store branded product issue even Norco can be seen to be invested in low returns to farmers per litre as they are listed as a supplier of many Coles branded dairy products as found on this quote from the Coles site " Norco
Lismore, New South Wales and Labrador, Queensland

Coles has extended its contract with Norco to supply 60 million of Coles Brand milk annually to 2023.

Norco is a 121 year old co-operative owned by 220 dairy farmers in Queensland and New South Wakes. This extension has given Norco the confidence to invest in its existing plant, employ an additional 22 team members and sign 74 new dairy farmers to supply milk to the cooperative.

Norco also produces a huge range of our delicious and award winning Coles Brand ice creams including some of our customers’ absolute favourites like the peanut butter."

The price rise is most likely going to be collected by the big dairy production companies and then at some time passed back to the farmers. In the meantime they, those producers, will benefit on the interest and liquidity that collecting this money will generate for them as I don’t see this will happen as a “at the gate” price rise. I hope I am proved wrong but I don’t think I will be.

An article that appeared on the “Queensland Country Life” site in 2017 about the “better for the farmer” independent brands can be found at the following link. While it also references Dairy Farmers, Pauls, and Norco (though it is a Co-op so the farmers should have the say about farm gate pricing and share in the profits) as they are the businesses that also produce much of the Store Brand product you might need to consider if they really are as much ‘fair return to farmer’ producers as the others hopefully are:


Am article regarding a fantastic scientific breakthrough in fresh milk processing so it stays fresh in the fridge for at least 60 days.

Great stuff.



What I liked is the way Woolworths has been promoting the 10cent a litre increase in their homebrand milk to help the Australian dairy farmers while at the same time their cheap homebrand butter is from New Zealand which is certainly not helping Australian dairy farmers


I buy locally produced milk because the company is active in supporting local community and sporting groups. If it’s not available, I’ll go for a branded milk such as Farmer’s Own.


You do realise that (and an increasing number of ‘only at XXX’ products) is a Woolworth’s house brand, don’t you? Woolies and Coles are just playing the Aldi’s game by putting made-up brands on their house products labels. The give-away - ‘packed for Woolworth (or Coles)’ on the labelling.,


Actually, this brand - which I admit I might have misnamed - is produced by a company in which I hold shares. So, I’m actually helping to put money back in my own pocket.


How can we, as consumers, expect to pay less for milk that we are prepared to pay for soft drinks or even water?. Clearly the middle man is still getting his profit so the only losers are the dairy farmers. Buying the dearer milk doesn’t really help as it’s mostly the dairy co-ops that reap the profit although in some cases the dairy farmers have joined to form the co-ops. I don’t understand why the farmers can’t take collective action against Woollies,Coles and Aldi. They’ve got to get their milk from somewhere!