Almost two-thirds of Dale Farm suppliers manage 3p/L bonus

Northern Ireland’s largest milk processor, Dale Farm, has seen a significant boost in its supply despite the difficult summer.

The co-operative, which is also one of the largest farmer-owned dairy processors in the UK, has picked up several new suppliers, with around 30 understood to have joined since the start of the year.

AgriLand understands the majority of the newcomers are former Linwoods suppliers, as well as a cohort from LacPatrick who moved when the firm’s difficulties were first announced. Meanwhile, several of the others are said to be fresh into dairy farming.

Milk supply has been strong even given the drought and grass shortages, with estimates putting the last few months’ production 5-6% ahead of the previous year.

Bosses at the company have been telling milk suppliers they want more milk with their latest Milk Production Incentive commencing in July.

Summer boost

The incentive saw existing suppliers offered a generous bonus of 3p/L for any milk additional produced above last year.

Given the challenging conditions, many feared missing out; however, the firm confirmed to AgriLand today that 60% of suppliers received a bonus under the Milk Production Incentive in their latest milk cheque.

Earlier this week, Dale Farm announced it will hold its base price at 28.2p/L – coupled with the ‘Loyalty Bonus’ of 0.3p/L, it means members will receive 28.5p/L for July milk supplies.

Nick Whelan, Dale Farm’s chief executive, said: “For July, 60% of milk suppliers will receive a bonus for additional milk supply, with the average payment adding a further 0.43p/L to their milk price.

“We are delighted with the way our milk producers have responded.”

He put the boost down to “hard work which across all aspects of the business” which has resulted in the firm’s higher milk price compared to its competitors.

Earlier this month, Lakeland Dairies announced it would pay 27.5p/L for its July supply – it narrows the gap slightly but still leaves the firm a penny behind the market leader.