This story is over 5 years old.


The UK Could Be on the Brink of an Ice Cream Shortage

Bust out your Che Guevara T-shirt and comfy protest pants, because the heroes that are Britain’s dairy farmers are getting pretty damn desperate.
Photo via Flickr user FreddieBrown

There is nothing that stokes a more intense feeling of unrest in mankind than a dearth of ice cream. Even if you happen to be some sort of self-flagellating ascetic who inexplicably doesn't enjoy the frozen nectar of the gods, you can at least use what little imagination you have to understand its steadfast importance on the rest of us.

So get ready to bust out your Che Guevara T-shirt and comfy protest pants, because the heroes that are Britain's dairy farmers are getting pretty damn desperate. In recent months, the price that retailers have been paying these farmers for their luscious wares is actually less than what it costs the farmer to make the milk.


READ: Dairy Farmers Are Paying the True Price for the UK's Cheap Milk

Which obviously causes quite the conundrum for Britain's intrepid dairymen, who are slowly being squeezed out of a market that is rightly theirs. And if something isn't done soon, the result would mean a nationwide deficit of milk, yogurt, and—gag me with a gelato spoon—ice cream.

And the British love their ice cream. According to The Telegraph, the British public bought 723 million pounds of ice cream last year, "enough to fill more than seven cones for every person in the UK."

Things have gotten so bad that in protest, desperate farmers have paraded two cows through an Asda supermarket.

The president of the National Farmers Union, Meurig Raymond, said, "I've been farming for 45 years and this is the worst I've known." Over 300 dairy farm have gone out of business this last year alone, and more may follow suit soon.

Farmers say that it costs them 30 pence (about 47 American cents) to produce a liter of milk. Problem is, the retail stores will only pay them 23 pence (US $0.36) per liter, even though the stores are selling the milk for 89 pence (US $1.39) to customers.

Although milk in Britain is more expensive than anywhere else in Europe—or in the US, where retail prices are currently around an unnatural $1 per liter—prices to consumers are still down 30 percent over the past year. And retailers are happy to buy milk from other countries if British farmers aren't able to reasonably sell to them.

Still, the farmers would like the markets to take a smaller profit and share the wealth. David Handley of Farmers For Action said: "We're not asking stores to put prices up to shoppers, we're saying there's such a margin between the farmgate price and the retail price. There's sheer desperation."

Retailers haven't been willing to raise prices yet, although a Channel 5 News poll found that 71 percent of shoppers in the UK would be willing to pay more if the profits went into the pockets of the dairy farmers. Keep fighting the good fight, dairy farmers of Britain.