DII welcomes ‘essential worker’ list – but warns of ‘peak’ challenges ahead…

Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) has welcomed the publication of the Government’s “essential services” employee list – but warns that significant challenges for the industry and suppliers are still fast-approaching.

It a statement DII director, Conor Mulvihill, acknowledged that the list – announced as part of the Government’s heightened Covid-19 fight plan – will give some “flexibility” for processing to “continue unhindered” throughout the unprecedented public health emergency that has gripped the nation.

“We are happy that Government listened to us. All reasonable requests have been achieved.

There was full recognition of our role in delivering dairy and nutrition products here in Ireland and in international supply chains.

During the week, DII issued a template letter to members, that Mulvihill says, will “satisfy [the Government’s] requirements” for employees.

“We wish to especially commend the staff and families of our businesses who have given enormous commitment to keep all facilities running.”

Two peaks

However, the DII director continued to warn that significant challenges remain ahead for the industry and its suppliers.

Irish milk supply volumes are increasing towards the seasonal peak off our grass-fed base. This peak unfortunately almost exactly overlays the peak the HSE are projecting for the Covid virus.

“The industry is collaborating with all stakeholders to make every possible effort to ensure that all milk produced on farms can continue to be processed,” he said.

As part of proper contingency planning – and with reference to HSE modelling of likely cases and the consequent staff absentee rates – Mulvihill again warned that industry scenarios now include “a material disruption” to throughput at key processing locations.

DII represents primary and secondary dairy manufacturers including the specialised nutrition sector in Ireland.