Kerry says it will match the top price
Kerry Group insisted that it had not broken a pledge to its suppliers to match the top milk price paid by the main players in the Irish dairy scene.
The decision by the four West Cork co-ops, which process their milk collectively through Carbery, to hold their milk price for April has left Kerry Group 3c/l below the 34c/l (including VAT) paid by its southern neighbours.
Rumblings of discontent were reported in the southwest, with Kerry milk suppliers expressing dissatisfaction over the company's decision to drop its milk price before Carbery had made a decision on what it was paying for April.
However, a Kerry Group spokesman said the company was standing by its commitment to match the leading milk price, but he maintained that this would be fulfilled on an annual and not a monthly basis.
"While milk price is reviewed on a monthly basis, our commitment to paying the best milk price on a like-for-like basis will be fulfiled on an annual basis," he said.
Asked if the company would pay a bonus at the end of the year to make up any shortfall that may arise through the year, the spokesman said that Kerry management would have to "work its way through this".
As part of the move last August to take the Kerry Co-op shareholding in Kerry Group plc below the former 20pc threshold, the company agreed to match the top milk price paid by what were described as 'major' processors.
Kerry Group maintain this agreement covered the price paid on a 'like-for-like basis' for comparable solids and milk quality standards.