Shoppers are likely to have to pay much more for a pint of milk as the dwindling number of UK dairies hits supplies.
Supermarkets are pushing the price up after months of swallowing increase costs.
This week, Morrisons announced it was upping the cost a four-pint carton by 10% from £1 to £1.10.
The move came in response to soaring prices at the farm gate. A spokesman for the supermarket chain said it had tried to hold prices down but “needed to respond when there were ongoing cost pressures”.
Industry experts said other grocers were likely to follow. Michael Oakes, dairy board chairman of the National Farmers’ Union, welcomed the move, saying the new price was closer to “reflecting the true cost of milk production”.
Although average milk deliveries have risen in recent months, up 2.5%, they are still nearly 6% down on last year.
The number of dairy farmers has declined dramatically in recent years. In 1996, there were around 35,000, now there are about 13,000 – a drop of almost two-thirds.
And as for the cost of a pint, in 1996 it was 36p, now it’s between 45p and 49p, at the various major supermarkets.
British households buy more than 5bn litres of milk every year, with 51 litres of semi-skimmed being downed per person annually, according to the Milk Marketing Forum.
The 10p rise at Morrisons represents the biggest increase for four pints in big supermarkets since the start of a milk price war in 2014.
Morrisons’ decision comes two months after it increased its support for British farmers with a new dedicated milk supply group and new welfare commitments.
The rising cost of milk is another indication of the climbing costs in the dairy industry as a whole.
Butter prices surged by 14% in June to an all-time high and is now hovering around £5,300 per tonne.
With the UK dairy industry turning over £27.8bn a year and supporting 70,000 jobs, an ongoing international dairy summit being held in Belfast this week is hearing concerns for the industry from the Brexit fallout.