Why are milk prices rising, plus this week’s best deals

Have you noticed milk prices have gone up at the supermarket?

Coles announced it would ‘reluctantly’ raise its own-brand milk by 10 cents a litre to $1.70 for one litre and $3.30 for two litres.

“We don’t take the decision to raise prices lightly, particularly because of the increased cost-of-living pressures faced by our customers,” a Coles spokesperson said recently.

According to ABC News, the latest increase means milk has gone up by 21 per cent in one year.

So what’s behind the price rise? Well, partly, supermarkets themselves are to blame.

Remember when the supermarkets got into a price war over milk and slashed prices about 10 years ago? Well, that bird has well and truly come home to roost.

Price takers

With the deregulation of the industry in 2000, dairy farmers became price takers instead of price makers and the supermarket price war put massive pressure on their income while they still had to battle rising prices for feed, fertiliser, power and other inputs.

And dairying is a hard life. Not too many people want to milk cows two times a day, with that first milking well before the sun rises. Staff were also hard to come by for the same reason.

As a result, many left the industry for less onerous farming enterprises such as cattle or sheep grazing or cropping.

Peak industry body Dairy Australia estimates 2350 dairy farmers have left the industry since 2011 and the $1 litre milk price. That leaves only 4420 dairy farmers left, so a fall of about one third.

In 2019, Coles, Aldi and Woolworths agreed to lift their prices by 25 per cent, but by that time the damage was done.

So, that makes it a supply and demand situation. Milk and milk products become more valuable as the supply shrinks.

In some good news, Dairy Australia says Victorian farmers had a record profitable year for 2023 with a jump of 33 per cent, the highest since the body began collecting statistics 17 years ago.

However, expect the price rises to continue as more farmers swap out of dairy.

This week’s best deals


Sensible: World Kitchen Pork and Ginger Dumplings, $5.49. I’m a great lover of dumplings and the convenience of someone else making those dumplings. You don’t even have to boil these, just stick them in the microwave. Lazy cooks rejoice.

Indulgence: It’s European specialities week and the whackadoodle names do not disappoint. Fancy some Lambertz Herzen Lebkuchen? Or Sfoglie Croccanti, or Weiss Oblaten Lebkuchen? They sound like eastern European train stations, but are in fact a variety of sweet snacks. Prices start at $2.99 for the Schluckwerder Marzipan Kartofflen which is apparently delicious cocoa-dusted ‘baubles’ of traditional marzipan. Sounds ghastly, if I’m honest.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Cadbury sharepacks, half price to $2.50. Choose your own adventure. Stock up for Halloween early, or damn those pesky kids and eat them yourself.

Indulgence: Lamb Leg Boneless, $16/kg. Lamb continues its steady slide but it will soon be back to stratospheric levels when the market steadies. Boneless makes a quick roast or cut it up for an easy curry.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Washed white potatoes, $4 for 2kg, save $3.50. You may not need potatoes yet, but you may soon. Buy them anyway at this price. Woolworths is promoting this in its ‘prices dropped for spring’ section so expect this special for a few more weeks.

Indulgence: Mersey Valley Cheese varieties, $6, save $3. I don’t care how many fancy schmancy cheeses you put on your fancy schmancy cheeseboard, if it doesn’t have a Mersey Valley, I’ll be a little bit disappointed. Get some on special now.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Vita-Weat varieties, $3.05, save $1.35. I’m not sure why I like Vita-Weat, on the first bite, the mouth feel is akin to what I imagine cardboard is like, but not an hour later and half the pack is gone. Is it a self-punishment thing?

Indulgence: Betty Crocker Baking mix varieties, $5.35, save $2.35. Sometimes you just need a cake or some biscuits and you don’t want to work too hard at it. It’s always good to have one pack of these lurking in the back of your pantry for emergency entertainment situations.

See the catalogue here.

Have you noticed milk price rises? Does it impact your budget? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Also read: The truth about new age toothpastes

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. Its always price up price up ,profits up profits up
    These corporate giants never look at the consequences ahead
    Dairy Australia estimates 2350 dairy farmers have left the industry since 2011 and the $1 litre milk price. So these highly paid executive’s never thought of looking at that scenario.

  2. Not just milk Just as an example in my local Woolworths today Canola oil 4 lt $30 last year $14 chips for grand kids used to be 2 boxes for $5.50 now $8 a box drinks mixers 4pk were $2.50 each now $11 on special for 2 Local milk 2 ltrs $6.10 and the list is endless and when the crap hits the fan over seas it will get a lot worse but not to worry Albe will look after us

    • Not sure where you buy canola oil and milk. Yesterday the Woolworths price for canola oil was $15 for 4 litres. Generic milk is of course around $3.10-3.30, but even the local milk wasn’t $6.10. It was $4.90. I don’t recall mixer drinks being $2.35 a pack in recent memory, unless on a 2 for 1 special. The current price is about what you say – 2 for $10, but this was the regular price. I don’t know about the chips – the only boxes my Woolworths had were large boxes of 20 packets (about $8.90), and this clearly isn’t the boxes you are referring to. All the other chips at Woolworths were in foil or plastic packets, or pringles containers.

  3. I don’t begrudge the dairy farmers raising their prices as they were price gouged out of business by the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths.
    The washing powder I use used to be $20 a box and I always purchased it on 1/2 price special at $10. Now 1/2 price special is $13 ($26 a box) or 30% increase in about 18 months….and the list goes on.
    I notice each time a manufacturer changes its packaging there is a price increase!

  4. The big loss from the milk market this year was Milk by Cow, the cold pressed processed milk.
    It was very tasty and creamy but priced above even the “boutique” milks such as Barambah and Hunt and Brew.
    Full cream milk is one of the most healthy foods that we can consume and we should always buy the brands that are paying the farmers (the producers that have no negotiating power when dealing with groups such as Coles and Woolworths) the better rates.

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