Northern Irish milk production soars as prices hold

Two of Northern Ireland’s biggest milk processors have reported major increases in production levels as prices continue to hold.

Compared to the year before, Northern production was up 12% for Lakeland Dairies and 8.4% among Dale Farm suppliers during the month of September.

The latest department figures, which record production levels for August, show an extra 4.6 million litres of the white stuff during the month.

At 183 million litres it was the most productive August ever recorded for the region’s dairy farms.

Still Northern Ireland’s largest milk processor, albeit likely for a limited remaining period, Dale Farm this week became the latest to announce it was to hold its base milk price for another month.

At 28.2p/L, the co-op is currently sitting top of the local leaderboard in terms of its farm-gate milk price, with this month’s announcement marking the fourth month in a row that the co-op has held. The price is also currently the highest on the island.

It compares with 32c/L paid by both Aurivo and Arrabawn in the Republic of Ireland. At the current exchange rate with VAT added, the Dale Farm price equates to around 33.9c/L.

During the summer, expanding businesses have also have benefited from the processor’s production incentive scheme – something bosses credit with some of the extra supply.

The incentive saw existing suppliers offered a generous bonus of 3p/L for any milk additional produced above last year. This has averaged out as an additional 0.3p/L on the milk cheque.

A spokesman added that several new entrants to dairy farming and suppliers who have moved to Dale Farm from other processors had also contributed to the figure.

Prices elsewhere

Major rival Lakeland Dairies has also held its standard litre price for September – albeit a little lower at 27.5p/L.

Across the rest of the UK, of the major processors, Arla remains one of the highest.

The board of Arla Foods set its standard UK manufacturing milk price for September at 31.38p/L – the same as it had been the month before.

Back in June, the firm was the first major UK milk processor to cross the 30p/L mark, setting its standard litre price at 30.5p/L.