milk prices jump

Are retailers ready to deal with consumer complaints once prices reach $5 per gallon? Think we’re talking about gasoline? Think again. Skyrocketing milk prices in New York will climb another 53 cents a gallon next month, and milk in the city could cost up to $4.40 a gallon. And it could get worse by year’s end when the price of milk could reach a record $5 a gallon, experts

said.

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets and the dairy industry said yesterday the so-called threshold price that retailers can charge customers will rise 53 cents on Sunday. The culprit: Fuel prices are increasing as are feed costs, the latter because corn is being diverted into ethanol production, the agency said.

As a result, consumers also can expect to pay more for cheese, butter and ice cream and products containing milk, such as baked goods, chocolate and sports and nutrition bars, the New York Daily News reported.

The price of a plastic gallon of whole milk now varies from $3.68 a gallon in Brooklyn to $3.95 a gallon on Staten Island – and could rise accordingly to $4.21 and $4.48 a gallon.

The milk industry acknowledges rising prices could hit families hard.

“So far, the milk price increases have not impacted consumption,” said Steven Schwartz, executive director of New York State Dairy Foods Inc., an organization of milk processors and distributors. “But we fear that the 53-cent hike could change that – and that could affect the health of the city’s children.”

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