Lakeland Dairies milk volumes have increased by 10% year-on-year, according to the dairy co-op’s Chief Executive Michael Hanley.

“And there is every prospect of this trend being maintained into 2016,” he said.

“Our farmers are confirming that most of their cows are back in calf, which sets the scene for another year of enhanced milk output.”

Hanley was speaking at the recent opening of the co-op’s new global logistics’ centre at Newtownards in Co. Down.

He believes that the positive outcome of the last two Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions is significant, pointing out that they have managed to put a floor under international dairy prices.

“But there remains a total disconnect between what’s happening here in Europe, where prices are still falling, and the rest of the world,” he said.

“However, if the GDT was to deliver a series of positive results over the coming couple of months, this would send out a positive signal to the dairy markets as a whole.”

Hanley said that the recent agreement reached with Fane Valley to establish a new joint venture milk processing operation is significant for the Irish dairy industry as a whole.

“Success within to-day’s increasingly competitive dairy processing sector is all about delivering efficiencies of scale and optimising product quality. The new dairy joint venture with Fane Valley will allow us achieve these core objectives.

“The new business will have access to an annual milk pool in excess of 1bn litres. This represents the second largest resource of its kind on the island of Ireland. The reality is that we cannot keep up with demand from customers at the present time.

“There is a commercial market for every drop of milk that we process. And, I am totally confident that we can grow the business further during the period ahead.”