The production of fair milk in Europe, which allows farmers to pay properly, subject to economic and climatic risks, is gradually spreading on the continent, but remains marginal compared to the worldwide production of liquid milk.
The European Milk Board, a European small farmers' union representing 100,000 farmers, recognizes Fairtrade milk products in seven European countries on its website: Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and, most recently, Switzerland.
Production, however, remains limited in comparison with that of industrial or cooperative dairies.
"In Belgium we will achieve a liter of fair milk per capita (per year) or ten million liters of fair milk," says Erwin Schöpges, Belgian breeder and chairman of the European Milk Board, who says consumption represents about 60 to 70 liters per inhabitant. In Luxembourg he realizes two liters of fair milk per capita.
In France, the production of fair milk (sold in particular under the brands "Faire France", "Mont Lait" or "Who & # 39; s the boss ?!") was recently estimated at 60 million liters by the National Federation of Milk Producers (FNPL), a drop of lactose in the ocean of 3 billion liters of liquid milk produced and sold every year in France.
"The percentage is rising all the time, but we still have problems." The large distribution does not always play the game It requires this fair milk, but only to cover and show the citizens + appearance, we support a farm project + and after the citizen has had a lot of trouble to find our product on the shelves, " plague Mr. Schöpges.
He is also worried that the momentum of fair milk is being undermined by unfair competition: he doubts whether the use of the term 'fair & # 39; as a marketing tool through a lot of milk from different parts of Europe, which pay producers above the average price, but without allowing them to cover their production costs.
"If you only pay the producer 38 or 35 cents, the farmer will be happy because he will earn a few cents next to the market, but if you want everyone to be paid correctly in the chain, you have to pay production costs," he says. Otherwise we risk to lower the prices of so-called fair milk and "everyone would lose".
Jean-Luc Pruvot, president of Faire France, pioneer of fair milk in France, who produced 9,15 million liters last year, also calls for competition from milk that surfs to local consumption.
"Sometimes there are milk from regions that pay less for breeders than normal milk," he told AFP. "Consuming locally, if the farmers are not paid, it has no interest."