Dairy processors sound alarm as milk supplies head for record highs

Ireland is on target for another record year of milk supplies
Ireland is on target for another record year of milk supplies
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Dairy processors are facing a wall of milk for the next fortnight as they battle to keep supplies processed through the peak production period.

Weekly supplies are running 13-20pc ahead of last year, as a combination of bigger cow numbers and strong grass growth is reflected in increased deliveries.

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Ireland is on target for another record year of milk supplies, and is set to exceed the 8bn litre mark for the first time. Last year's figure topped 7.5bn litres.

Industry sources are confident there is enough processing capacity in the system nationally to deal with the latest surge in milk supplies, but they cautioned that every plant will be needed to stay on stream over the next few weeks, despite close to €1bn being invested in stainless steel over the last decade.

A spokesman for Arrabawn said: "The entire industry will need the next few months to go smoothly. Any interruptions to processing will cause a challenge."

Another industry insider said processing capacity could be "in trouble" if there were problems at any of the major facilities, especially over a weekend.

Most dairies expect to see milk deliveries peak over the coming week, which is much earlier than usual.

Processors report a massive jump in April milk supplies compared to both 2018 and 2017.

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However, the 2017 comparisons give a more accurate picture since last year's milk deliveries were badly affected by the atrocious spring weather.

April supplies are running 19pc ahead of last year in Arrabawn, and almost 14pc up on 2017. The year-to-date figures show a 16.5pc jump on 2018 supplies, with deliveries running 18.6pc ahead of 2017.

Glanbia said April supplies were 20pc ahead of 2018, while the year-to-date supply figure was 15pc higher than last year.

Milk supplies to Lakeland Dairies for April were 20pc up on 2018, with year-to-date deliveries 15pc higher.

April milk supplies at Dairygold were 16pc up on 2018 and 5pc ahead of 2017. Milk deliveries year-to-date are 10pc higher than last year, and 5pc up on 2017.

Milk supplies in Kerry are also running well ahead of last year's levels, with deliveries up 16pc in April compared to 2018, and year-to-date production up 6.5pc on last year. Similarly, milk production is well up in West Cork. April milk supplies to co-ops in the region are 13-17pc up on 2018, with year-to-date supplies 7-15pc higher than last year.

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