The Republic of Ireland is set to import a record level of milk in 2015, according to the Chairman of the National Agency, Denis Murphy.

Speaking at the launch of a new IFA Liquid Milk handbook this week, Murphy also said the State is going to have record levels of milk production in 2015.

He also said the milk composition will be the highest ever with butter fats exceeding 4% for the first time and protein 3.5% for the first time. He said a lot of this is arising from genetics and good farm management.

However, according to Murphy we are also going to have a record volume of milk imports for both manufacturing in the State and liquid milk this year with about 600m litres of milk coming in from Northern Ireland in the current year.

According to latest statistics from the CSO between January and August this year 409m litres of milk were imported into the State.

“That will be a record as well. That figure is equivalent to the total milk consumption within the State.

“A very significant figure and something that we need to be concerned about, Murphy said.

He outlined that since 1994, imports have grabbed an increasing share of the liquid milk market.

“About 25%, or one out of every four litres of milk consumed in the state is being imported from Northern Ireland.”

Performance key for liquid milk producers

According to Murphy a key message arising from Teagasc research into both spring calving and winter milk production is that it is not so much the system in which milk is produced its the performance with the system that is key.

“The top 10% of farmers have a profit per cow in 2014 which is almost 50% higher than the average farmer, whether it is was a seasonal milk system or a winter milk system.

“Really, emphasis on what’s happening behind farm gate in the new post-quota environment is critically important.”

While acknowledging that grassland production is the lowest unit cost on the basis of producing milk, Murphy stressed that Ireland does not want to have a situation where it is exporting milk to the world and is not encouraging a core group of suppliers to supply our domestic situation.