I have sat in on many meetings since the Coles/ Murray Goulburn 10 year deal was announced and there are a lot of wise people in the dairy industry very concerned that Murray Goulburn has bitten of more than they chew by getting into bed with Coles. I hope they are wrong
Dairy Farmers Milk Supply Cooperative Chairman recently said in an open letter to farmer suppliers
The Coles media assault says that Coles want to look after Australian dairy farmers, that they want farmers to have security of tenure, that there will be an increase in milk prices and a premium over current regional milk pricing, and that they expect milk to be sourced locally for MG contracts.
Macquarie Equity analysts inform that there has been a reduction in wholesale price into Coles so there are real questions as to the transparency of it all; what will be the price set and the price premium. It is a question of what is the money and where will it come from. Let us not forget that Coles also said that $1 milk would not hurt farmers. Coles has the media story, will their new partners deliver? In truth it is a test for Coles to deliver.
Many are saying that the Australian dairy industry is entering the perfect storm. Milk’s heartland Victoria is under extreme pressure from dry conditions, and no real break in the weather is predicted before mid-June and the weather is turning cold, a dire combination that means there will be a shortage of grass to feed cows. On top of this 4% of Australia’s milk supply has rumoured to have gone into receivership
Milk supply in NSW is predicted to drop below 1 billion litres for the first time ever
Source Dairy Australia
Large processors supplying the domestic market are hurting
It is in this market that Lion has no return on capital in the milk division, low EBIT margins and has written off approximately two billion dollars.
Fonterra is realigning their Australian business, changing its consumer brands as the retail price war in milk begins to bite into its profits. EBIT from its Australian consumer brands fell 31 per cent.
Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said that “there’s a new reality in Australia,” and that Fonterra is facing “aggressive competition” in milk supply and, with a retail price war in Australia; it has to ensure its supply chain is cost-effective.
Fonterra currently has 21 brands in Australia, which has room for a maximum four or five, he said. It was too soon to say what plants or jobs losses may result, though Mr Spierings noted the company has a wide variety of yoghurt brands and also faces pressure in the milk market.
On a positive note the Global Trade Weighted Index for all dairy all around the world has gone sharply upward.
This is likely to mean that the tanker after tanker load of milk that is currently coming up from Victoria to fill the milk shortfall in NSW and Queensland will stay in Victoria for export
Seasonal conditions have been part of the perennial challenge and there is no doubt adverse climatic conditions are harder to handle in our dairy businesses that ever before. This goes for all of agriculture, there is simply less room for failure.
The fact that dairy is tougher than ever is evidenced by the tough climatic events causing farmers to exit the industry. We are running out of reserve, both in terms of cash but also equity, and the ability (and incentive) to borrow.
The national industry is not growing; the pincer of cost and revenue is tightening. When tough times such as floods and dry spells occur, low levels of farmer confidence result in some questioning why they would battle on again for this uncertain future. For this reason among others, the assurance of better terms for longer term is an imperative for farmer confidence and viability. said the DFMC Chairman
Tomorrow I am attending yet another review with a very large regional business that relies on our region prospering. What heartens me is there are many people big and small out there who care about our farmers and they are working side by side with us on the solutions
Yes indeed Coles you do appear to have trumped Woolworths with your latest media story, but no-one is forgetting you lied when you said that $1 milk would not hurt farmers. In fact its got to the point where it is hurting consumers and the country as a whole
The world and your customers are watching Coles. Will you deliver?