Further confirmation that the prospects for dairy are on the up comes with the news that Dale Farm cheese exports to Russia have now broken the £10 million barrier. The company, which is the commercial arm of the farmer owned co-op United Dairy Farmers,  has recently landing a further order for £1.7 million worth of cheddar.

David Dobbin, Dale Farm’s Group Chief Executive, said, “Russia is becoming a key cheese export market for us. From entering the market 2 years ago with an initial contract for 100 tonnes of cheddar we have now sold over 2,500 tonnes.”

Dale farm has recently completed a major £40 million investment programme in its processing plants, including its cheddar and whey processing facility at Dunmanbridge in Cookstown. The company’s cheese plant, one of the most advanced in Europe, is now capable of producing over 50,000 tonnes of top quality cheddar per year.

“Our recent investment in the Dunmanbridge cheddar plant has been an important driver for our growing international success. The Russian market offers great potential with a population of over 140 million and a growing demand for cheese and butter products. On the back of another successful year for our cheese business picking up quality accolades at the Great Taste Awards, Nantwich International Cheese Show and the World Cheese Awards –we’re confident in establishing new relationships and securing further orders. ”

Commenting on the future prospects for the dairy sector as a whole David Dobbin told AgriLand that the international dairy market has remained remarkably resilient over recent times and this despite the increased milk output now coming through in a number of countries.

He added:

“This can be attributed, almost exclusively, to the growth in exports of dairy products to China. This can be accounted for by a continuing growth in demand for milk and milk products in that country, allied to a 10% fall in domestic output. This latter development could well be attributed to a Foot and Mouth outbreak in China.

“The reality is that New Zealand cannot keep up with demand from China at the present time. In our own case we are selling whey based powders directly to that market. I can also confirm that demand for these high, value added products is equally strong in countries such as Russia and many regions of Africa.”

Looking beyond the ending of milk quotas in 2015 David Dobbin indicated that EU dairy output may well increase in line with current expectations.