The Milk Producers’ Organisation (MPO) is investigating allegations that the import of large quantities of milk powder has played a role in depressing local milk prices. MPO managing director Etienne Terre’Blanche confirmed that there was activity in terms of imported UHT milk, but the organisation needed to determine what else has been coming into the country. “Agri Inspect is looking into that as we speak,” said Terre’Blanche.
“The drop in the producer price is something we don’t want to accept, especially if buyers are saying it’s because there’s too much milk. The indications are that we don’t have too much milk. Somewhere, something is wrong.” Charlie MacGillivray, a dairy farmer in the Howick area in KZN, said the recent “meddling” with the milk supply status and Clover’s subsequent 20c drop in the producer price was a disgrace. “In reality, the ‘surplus’ that justified the fiddling of the milk price was created largely by the importation of milk powder. Given the events in China with the mortality and ill health of infants, surely a proper cow-to-consumer campaign is needed to ensure that corporate greed does not subjugate fundamental consumer safety.”
He added that it was also concerning that there’s no audit trail. “All of this will in future, if it has not done so already, impact on food security,” MacGillivray said. Another farmer from the KZN Midlands commented, “We can meet the needs of this country. People who make powder locally have difficulty in marketing it as it is, without having to compete with cheap imports.”
Terre’Blanche said the message that needed to be made clear, especially to consumers, was that they should not buy imported products. “Buy local products which are of a very high standard and compare with anything from the First World. Consider that if milk products are imported from Uraguay, for example, how do we know where the raw materials were sourced? It’s possible they came from China. And government does not check these things.” – Robyn Joubert