Northern milk war sees 200m litres switch

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Up to 10pc of Northern Ireland's 2bn-litre milk pool or 200m litres has switched to new outlets as processors battle to secure supplies.

David Dobbin, the chief executive of the North's largest milk processor, United Dairy Farmers, confirmed that up to 10pc of their milk pool has been lost to competing processors. Town of Monaghan, which handles a fifth of the Northern milk pool, has lost 12pc in the last year.

Processors, including Fane Valley, Fivemiletown and Glanbia, have been enticing farmers away from the North's biggest processors by offering up to 2p/l premiums.

"I know farmers that decided to switch even though they had to fork out a £32,000 (€37,870) penalty for breaking their supply contract with United Dairy Farmers – that's how much the higher milk price was worth to them," said Ulster Farmers' Union deputy president, Ian Marshall, who was attending Balmoral Show in Lisburn, Co Antrim. Mr Marshall has moved his own 1.2m litre milk supply from United Dairy Farmers to Fane Valley in the last month. However, he gave his former processor 12 months notice of his intention to switch in order to avoid a penalty of up to £15,000 (€17,750).

Private milk brokers are also appearing in the mix in the North, as supplies continue to slide in Britain.

As Northern prices edge ahead of prices in the Republic, it increases the likelihood of milk brokers and processors looking to farmers on this side of the Border for supplies over the coming months.

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Irish Independent


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