North Cork and Feale Bridge co-ops to merge

North Cork Co-operative Creameries of Kanturk, Co. Cork, and the Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge Co-operative from Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick, are to merge following an agreement approved by the boards and members of both co-operative societies.

The development follows “necessary rule changes and approvals” agreed by the members of the co-operatives, on the unanimous recommendation of their respective boards, according to the co-ops.

These were made during the course of discussions leading up to the completion of the merger agreement.

The merger is subject to approval by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge and North Cork are “friendly societies” who already work closely together in a commercial dairy processing arrangement, it was added.

As it stands, North Cork Creameries processes milk into a range of products for Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge.

Following on from the agreement, the businesses of both co-operatives will be merged – with all current milk collection and processing arrangements continuing as normal.

Under the new arrangement, members of Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge Co-operative will become full members of North Cork Co-operative.

The chairman and vice-chairman of Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge Co-operative will also join the board of North Cork Co-operative.

The board of Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge will continue in an advisory capacity for 12 months to oversee transition arrangements.

Michael Mangan, chairman of Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge Co-operative said: “We have a long and successful commercial milk processing relationship with North Cork Creameries – which has always supported us very strongly over the years. Our milk producers will now also benefit from direct involvement in co-operative dairy processing.

“This agreement represents the total commitment of both our societies to support our members, milk producers and customers as part of a vibrant co-operative enterprise – which is both competitive and sustainable for our mutual benefit as dairy farmers.

The combination of both co-operatives will strengthen the dairy industry throughout our region and will underpin the future success of our business.

Martin O’Keeffe, chairman of North Cork Co-operative Creameries also commented, noting: “Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge is a co-operative which we greatly respect and we are very pleased to enter this merger with it.

“This development offers clear prospects for further secure growth and sustainability for dairy farmers. It will reinforce our commitment to pay the highest possible milk price to milk producers through continuing efficiency and excellence in everything we do.

We have made substantial investments in the most modern facilities to meet the milk processing needs of our dairy farmers and the long-term requirements of our customers for high-quality dairy products and food ingredients.

“We look forward to working closely with our colleagues in Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge to further progress our co-operative success in the years ahead,” O’Keeffe concluded.

North Cork Creameries processes over 250 million litres of milk annually into a range of value-added dairy products and functional food ingredients – including 12.5 million litres of milk supplied by producers of Feale Bridge & Headley Bridge Co-op.