The adverts included pictures of own-brand milk sold in both supermarkets and referred to country of origin and milk prices.
A second version of the advertisement ran last week with altered wording, again focusing on the same two supermarkets.
The claims made in the adverts have been strongly refuted by both Aldi and Lidl. However, it has still caused upset among some of the supermarkets’ farmer suppliers.
‘A Kick In The Teeth’
South East Milk Producers is made up of around 70 dairy farming families based mainly in Wexford who supply milk to Strathroy Dairy – one of the main suppliers of milk to Lidl and Aldi stores across Ireland.
The group formerly supplied Wexford Creamery but broke away to supply Strathroy instead, after Glanbia took over the processor in 2015.
Their milk is not eligible for the NDC logo because it is processed in Northern Ireland, despite being produced and sold in the Republic of Ireland.
Speaking to Agriland, one of the farmers in the group said he and his father had been members of the IFA for decades but “not for much longer”.
“A lot of farmers [in the group] have been IFA members all their lives – it’s a kick in the teeth to them to open the newspaper and see that,” he said.
“I know several others have called their IFA reps about it – and the reps have been agreeing with us.”
It’s a sentiment shared by many in the group.
A statement signed by Liam Curtis, chairman of South East Milk Producers, and Ornagh Darcy, the group’s secretary, read: “Our milk is processed by Strathroy Dairy in Omagh, Co. Tyrone and supplied to Lidl and Aldi stores across Ireland.
“We are very disappointed to see our milk being characterised as not being from the Republic of Ireland.”
High Court Case
Lidl, one of the retailers featured, has warned that the adverts were “possibly defamatory” and said the milk they stock in the Republic of Ireland is only sourced from ROI.
Aldi also refuted claims made in the adverts, adding: “100% of Aldi’s Clonbawn branded milk and cream is sourced from Republic of Ireland farms”.
A case was filed in the High Court on Friday (March 19) listing IFA president Tim Cullinan, IFA deputy president Brian Rushe and the Irish Farmers’ Association as defendants.
No date has yet been set for proceedings.
An IFA spokesman said: “The IFA National Liquid Milk Committee has offered to meet with the South East Milk Producers to discuss the issue. All fresh milk producers need to come together to see how we can get increased margin on our milk. The current falling prices are not sustainable.
“It is completely wrong to label milk as being from ‘Coolree Creamery’ or ‘Clonbawn Irish Dairy’ when these do not exist.”