“Do you realize: when I was a kid, a liter of milk was paid two francs (about 33 euro cents, editor’s note) to my parents. Today, forty years later, I get 44 cents. You can’t really say that he kept up with the rise in the cost of living”. 12:30 p.m., this Friday, August 5, in the aisles of the Intermarché store in Lamballe. Like a dozen milk producer colleagues, Jean-Jacques Le Ru, from Ploézal, conducts price readings on various dairy products. Milk, butter, yogurts: the small group notes and removes from the shelves products at prices deemed “scandalous”.
In the cart, dozens of cartons of milk have been placed. The packaging, however, displayed an “eco-responsible” slogan. “I thought it also meant fair”, quips Philippe Cherdel in the face of one of the store executives who came to meet the small delegation. “Your Breton breeders that you love, you don’t make a lot of effort to support them. Because at 71 cents per liter on the shelf, those who pay for the mess are the producers,” says the farmer based in Bréhand and active activist within the FDSEA for years.
70 hours of work per week for €1,200 per month
Throughout France, the agricultural union has invited its members to carry out price surveys on dairy products, in particular to measure the price differences between brands. “The problem now is that the price of milk is not enough. It has not kept up with inflation. Our expenses have increased a lot since the beginning of the year”, explains François Bollet, from Rostrenen.
“It’s hard,” breathes Jean-Jacques Le Ru, the breeder from Ploézal. “I work 70 hours a week with my wife, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. We take a week’s vacation a year with our two children. And we each earn €1,200 per month. It’s our life. I do not regret. This profession fascinates me. But if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t do it again…”
Two identical butters, two different prices in the same store
Around 1 p.m., the group headed for the E. Leclerc store. The conclusion is the same. “Incredible price differences”, comments François Bollet. And sometimes even difficult to explain. Like these two pounds of butter, identical in all respects, made in the same factory, with strictly the same nutritional value. But with two packages and sold under two different brands. One at €10.24/kg and the other at €8.52/kg. There is also this local company which proudly displays its Breton colors, but makes its butter with European milk and sells it for more than 15 €/kg.
But for the breeders present, the most shocking thing is again and again the price of a liter of milk. “In France, we have the cheapest milk in Europe. Currently, it is at €0.78 per litre, whereas in Germany or Belgium, they are at €1 per litre”, deplores Philippe Cherdel, who concludes: “And with all that, we want to attract young people into agriculture. …”.
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Lamballe-Armor – “We have the cheapest milk in Europe”, denounce producers in Lamballe