Glanbia MilkFlex Fund receives European award for co-operative innovation

The Glanbia MilkFlex Fund recently received an award at the 2017 European Awards for Co-operative Innovation.

The awards were presented by COGECA – the association of European agricultural co-operatives – in Brussels this week.

Glanbia was presented with the COGECA Business Model Innovation Award for introducing the Glanbia MilkFlex Fund which offers “flexible, competitively-priced loans” to Glanbia milk suppliers – with loan repayments which vary according to seasonality and movements in milk price.

Introduced in May 2016, Glanbia decided to extend the MilkFlex Fund earlier this year until the end of December, 2017.

Since its launch, the fund has received more than €90 million in loan applications. The average value of MilkFlex loans drawn from the fund is €100,000 to date.

The purpose of the fund is to provide Glanbia milk suppliers in the Republic of Ireland with an “innovative funding product to support investment in on-farm productive assets” (including livestock, milking platform infrastructure and land improvement).

The chairman of Glanbia, Henry Corbally, added that the response to the Glanbia MilkFlex Fund since it was launched has been positive.

The purpose of the fund is to provide our milk suppliers with innovative funding that helps protect farm incomes from the impact of dairy market volatility.

“Since its launch in March 2016, the fund has encouraged renewed debate on the development of innovative funding products for farmers which is positive for the overall sector and to be welcomed,” he said.

‘Flex triggers’

A key feature of this loan product is that it has inbuilt ‘flex triggers’ that adjust the repayment terms in line with movements in Glanbia Ireland’s (GI’s) manufacturing milk price and seasonality, thereby providing farmers with “cash flow relief when most needed”.

Rabobank, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, Finance Ireland and Glanbia Co-Operative Society are co-investors in the fund – while Finance Ireland originates the loans and manages all aspects of the fund.

The interest rate charged on the loans is a variable rate of 3.75% above the monthly Euribor cost of funds (with a Euribor floor of zero).

While receiving the award, the director of Strategy and Supply Development at Glanbia Ireland, Sean Molloy, said: “We are very pleased to receive this award and wish to highlight the support of our partners – the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, Rabobank and Finance Ireland – in bringing the Glanbia MilkFlex Fund to market.

It is a valuable tool in assisting dairy farmers to manage income volatility, which is particularly challenging for family farms everywhere.

Meanwhile, these awards aim to promote practices and innovative solutions designed by co-operatives, COGECA president Thomas Magnusson explained.

“Since 2009, COGECA – the voice of European agri co-operatives – recognises and celebrates the outstanding innovation practices of European agri co-operatives.

“I am very pleased with the quality of the projects submitted this year. Agri co-operatives make sure that innovative solutions are workable at farm level, as they take into consideration all aspects of the project from the technical, social, environmental and economic aspects of it,” he concluded.