Some 3,400 dairy farms would be without a home for their milk if Ireland did not have the Germany market position it has with Kerrygold, Aaron Forde, Chairman of Aurivo and the IDB told the recent Teagasc Dairy Expansion Seminar.

That’s how much milk is needed to supply the German market with Kerrygold butter, he said.

The retail value of Kerrygold, he said, is €600m and premiumisation of Irish dairy is key for exports, especially in our core export markets.

He said that excellent milk quality and good animal health are not nice to have – they are imperative when it comes to marketing dairy products around the world. “Customers expect it,” he said.

“They are also a key risk to the dairy business as we export significant amounts. Some diseases have the risk to shut the industry down, such as Food and Mouth Disease and BSE that could shut us out of many markets.”

Johne’s Disease, BVD and IBR need to managed properly or the will undermine the image of Irish dairy products, he said.

“Good animal health status is a key to trade and open markets but also give us a competitive edge.

“Today’s consumer is younger and more savvy. They want to to understand the food they are eating and trust its provenance.”

Unilever, he said, does 550 on-farm checks of its own to look at animal health independently, while buyers of IDB product, such as Ahold, Walmart and Mars all do similar.

“We don’t need to leave ourselves vulnerable on the animal health front. Our competitors don’t have the credentials for grass-reared dairy, but they are trying to promote themselves as green and sustainable.”