Creating Alternatives: Flying fresh milk to China

Creating Alternatives: Flying fresh milk to China

Feeling trapped in a negotiation with a Goliath can quickly make the power balance seem uneven and lead to emotions of helplessness, frustration and anger, particularly when industry consolidation occurs and you are a small company suppling a commodity that lacks differentiation. In this issue of Negotiation Insights we look at how having strong alternatives can result in long-term game changing outcomes.

In recent years Australian consumers have been the big winners as large retailers Coles and Woolworths passed on the lower prices that resulted from their negotiations with milk producers. However, many dairy farmers viewed themselves as the losers, with the price cuts putting their livelihoods at risk.

To improve their circumstances many dairy farmers hoped that an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) would find that the big retailers had misused their market power to extract lower prices, which would result in a penalty and higher prices for the dairy industry.

However, while some relied on a third party to make a difficult situation better, there were others in the industry who thought about the opportunities they could create to strengthen their position with larger retailers.

For example, the Australian Dairy Co-operative Norco, who represented 190 farming families started exporting fresh milk from Australia direct to the Chinese city of Shanghai. By doing so, Norco was able to change the power balance with the large Australian retailers, service a growing export market, and gain higher margins by selling milk at $7 to $9 a litre compared to the $1 a litre, which had resulted from the big retailers’ price wars. Source: Sue Neales The Australian May 6th 2014.

Self-coaching tips

  • Form a coalition to create alternatives and change the power balance
  • Hold a brainstorming session with multiple stakeholders
  • Introduce a third party
  • Take a longer-term view
  • Determine what could weaken the alternatives available to the other party


Avoiding Buyer's Remorse: Knowing when to close

Breaking Deadlocks: AFL resolves stalemate

Changing Perceptions: Shane Warne recalls advice

Collaborating to Create Value: Power to the people

Coping Strategies: Managing difficult Negotiators

Creating Alternatives: Flying fresh milk to China

Creating Points of Influence: Russell Crowe gets his leading lady

Cultural Differences: SONY Walkman designed for harmony

Defining Fairness: US German trade negotiations

Difficult Conversations: Thalidomide sufferers seek empathy

Elon Musk: When to negotiate

Engaging the Enemy: US and Taliban peace talks

Finding Common Ground: US Firearm reforms

Gun Tragedies: We hear you

Hostage Negotiations: A frontline perspective

Identity Needs: Tobacco now a nobody

Influencing Timelines: The brave new world of regulators

In Focus: Black Friday Negotiation Strategies

In Focus: Negotiating Roles

In Focus: Winning Together

Leadership Without Authority: Reducing domestic violence

Managing COVID-19 Renegotiations

Managing Power Imbalances

Managing Uncertainty: New freeway gets a red light

Measuring Negotiation Costs

Mindsets: It’s a choice!

Negotiating Teams & Coalitions

Negotiating with Agents

Negotiation Preparation: Prime Minster wins election

Negotiation Styles: Managing aggressive behaviours

Price Haggling: Strategies to position value

Problem Solving: Calm in the cockpit

Problem Solving: Delivering outcomes

Restoring Relationships: Saying sorry

Setting the Scene: Automotive executives fly into a storm

Shaping Mindsets: AVIS We try harder

Taylor Swift: Giving others a voice

The Authentic Negotiator

The Power of Language: A statement or a question?

Timing Concessions: Bangladesh factory tragedy

Traits of Skilled Negotiators: Nelson Mandela

Verifying Trust: World soccer cup and gulf of Mexico oil spill