The price of milk

MilkYou all know how it is – you go to the supermarket and you buy stuff and you throw it in the trolley and you get to the checkout and pay your money and leave. Gone are the days where I knew how much things cost. Since supermarkets stopped pricing goods individually I never look to read the numbers near the bar graphs – half the time I can’t find them anyway.

So, it came as a bit of a shock when I borrowed some coins out of Sugar’s wallet to go and buy a bottle of milk from the dairy. Luckily I had taken all her gold coins – two two’s and a one. I grabbed a bottle of milk out of the chiller, passed it over to my friendly dairy owner who promptly but politely demanded $4.70 from me. This left me with 30 cents change.

Bloody hell! I could have bought two big bottles of Coke for that (if I’d wanted a sugar fix and, in the long run, bad teeth).

Why is it that dairy farmers are making stacks of money with the big Fonterra payout, and we are paying more for milk domestically? Surely it should be like buying petrol in Saudi Arabia – it’s refined in their backyard and they sell it to the locals for a pittance. What’s going on?

Dairy products are in great demand all around the world . There was a huge drought in Australia, so their milk production is down; there is more emphasis on cheese in the European Union as a result of changes to the Common Agriculture Policy back in 2003; and rainstorms in Argentina held up production there.

So demand is centred here. In little old New Zealand where dairy farmers are – excuse the pun – creaming it.

To those people who do follow the price of their grocery items with more care than me it’s little wonder that they are buying soft drinks and powdered juices for their children instead of milk. It’s a crime actually. This behaviour adds to obesity, diabetes, bad teeth…and a lack of milk reduces iron intake, and calcium necessary for bone health.

This from the National Children’s Nutrition Survey in 2002 :

Children consumed carbonated drinks weekly in the following proportions: Soft drinks 45 percent, Coca Cola or other cola drinks 43 percent, and Mountain Dew 9 percent.

Powdered fruit drink and Fruit drink from concentrate or cordial were drunk weekly by 54 percent and 32 percent of children respectively.

A higher proportion of New Zealand children drank Tea weekly (21 percent) than Coffee (6 percent).

Sports drinks were consumed weekly by 8 percent of New Zealand children and ‘New Age’ drinks by 6 percent. Forty-three percent of New Zealand children reported that they consumed Juice weekly.

There were no differences between males and females in the proportions consuming these types of drinks weekly.

However, the proportions of children 11–14 years who drank Coca Cola or other cola drinks, Tea, Sports drinks, ‘New Age’ drinks and Coffee weekly were higher compared with those 5–6 years.

In comparison milk consumption was lower: the study found…

…thirty-eight percent of New Zealand children reported drinking milk (not flavoured)
every day, 34 percent weekly, 10 percent monthly and 17 percent less than monthly or
never. Frequency of milk consumption was unrelated to sex or age. The proportion
consuming milk daily was higher for NZEO (males 41 percent; females 39 percent) and
Mäori (39 percent; 33 percent) children than for Pacific children (32 percent;
23 percent)

Obviously the low consumption of milk products is not all related to cost – but it has to be one of the contributing factors.

We either need to put up the price of soft drinks (tax it like cigarettes) or lower the cost of milk (subsidise it and make it available in schools again).

FIGWIT on Prime

FIGWITIt’s a great couple of weeks for kiwi TV.

Firstly there’s the Flight of the Conchords series starting next Monday 17th September (10.00pm) on Prime – if you haven’t already illegally downloaded it then be sure to tune in.

But before that Prime is broadcasting the documentary FIGWIT : Frodo Is Great, Who Is That?

Made by three Wellington film makers, Stan Alley, Hannah Clarke and Nick Booth – the doco follows Brett McKenzie (who had a bit part on Lord of the Rings , and is also half of the Flight of the Conchords duo) to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2004. I saw it at the Wellington Film Festival in 2005 (I think).

Like many great kiwi documentaries it was shown a couple of times then forgotten, except by those who couldn’t escape it’s charming humour.

So, it’s great to see that Prime has dusted it off and is giving it the airplay it deserves. And it’s on in a great slot: 8.30pm, Thursday this week. It doesn’t even clash with the final of the Sopranos . Yay!

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