German Milk Protests Spread to Retailers | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 04.06.2008
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German Milk Protests Spread to Retailers

German dairy farmers were targeting supermarket retailers on Wednesday, June 4, in protests aimed at boosting low milk prices.

A worker controls milk tetra packs on a production line in a dairy in Freiburg, southern Germany

Some dairies have demanded compensation for losses in the boycott

Early on Wednesday, a group of farmers demonstrated in front of the Edeka headquarters in Hamburg. Further protests were planned for the headquarters of major supermarket chain Aldi Sued.

The demonstrations followed gatherings a day earlier, when farmers on tractors drove in a convoy from the headquarters of supermarket chain Rewe, in the western city of Cologne, to Aldi Nord in Essen.

Bavarian dairy farmer Klaus Gerst takes a sip of milk on his farm in Erding, southern Germany, Tuesday, June 3, 2008.

Many say they'd pay more -- if farmers profit

Strikes and protests have been going on in Germany for more than a week, with dairy farmers demanding higher prices and lower quotas for milk. They have been joined in solidarity by farmers in some neighboring countries.

Dairies are hit where it hurts

The dairy farmers' actions have hit dairies on the bottom line. According to the head of the German Milk Industry Federation (MIV), Eberhard Hetzner, losses have "certainly reached 50 million euros ($77 million)." This is due to production shortages from the ongoing strikes and blockades that have hit nearly half of the 110 dairies in Germany, Hetzner told the Bild Zeitung newspaper.

A number of dairies have demanded compensation for their losses. But the German Federal Dairy Farmers' Association (BDM), which is behind the delivery boycott, says it isn't worried about it.

An Edeka supermarket storefront

Farmers have now taken aim at retailers

BDM spokesman Franz Grosse said he was optimistic that the dairies and farmers would come to an agreement. On Tuesday, the association told its members to stop blockading the dairies. The delivery boycott is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, a survey showed the majority of Germans are prepared to pay more for milk, if the surcharge goes directly to farmers. A Forsa study for the weekly newsmagazine Stern showed 88 percent of Germans would be sympathetic to a 10 cent per liter rise in milk prices.

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