British dairy processors set sights on Irish milk supplies
Dairy farmers in the southeast have been approached by representatives from British processors with a view to supplying milk to Britain from 2015.
A number of large dairy farmers in Wexford, Wicklow and Kilkenny are believed to have been approached by agents acting for processors based in England and Wales.
While the exact details of what has been offered to farmers remains unclear, it is understood that supply contracts will be offered to some farmers within the next month.
These contracts will cover the period from 2015 to 2020 and are rumoured to give an initial base price of 32c/l plus VAT, with a commitment to match the price offered by Irish processors up to 40c/l.
The approaches to milk suppliers in the southeast were believed to have been made by an agent working for a 'middle ground' processor. These are processors who supply large liquid milk contracts for hospitals and nursing homes.
Up to 50pc of the milk pool in Britain goes to the liquid milk sector. Milk supplies in Britain have tightened – they are back 10pc to the end of March – and prices have increased to 32p/l, or 37.5c/l, as a consequence.
The farmers being targeted are operators with large and expanding herds, whose farms are close to the M11 south from Dublin to Wexford and also around Rosslare.
Industry sources said the volumes of milk being sought by the English traders were small and would only account for "four or five tanker loads a week".