UK -Dale Farm, a Northern Ireland cooperative owned by 1,300 dairy farmers, has reported hitting the highest turnover and profit to date in the financial year ending March 2022.

The cooperative said the overall group turnover was up to £591million (US$617M) from £524million (US$547M) achieved in the previous year.

The group’s operating profit amounted to US$26.7, up from US$14.6M, while the net profit before tax grew to US$23M from US$8.6M and EBITDA rose to US$35.3M from US$21.7M.

Nick Whelan, group chief executive, Dale Farm said: “Our focus is ensuring that our business is as efficient and profitable as possible so that we can pay the most competitive milk price whilst also building a stable future for Dale Farm and the farmers who own our cooperative.”

She added that achieving massive profit means constantly adapting to change and making difficult decisions, reviewing those areas that can no longer deliver for the company, and investing strongly in those that do.

At the same time, Whelan said the company needs to proactively ensure it has a suitable asset replacement program in place that maintains and builds processing capacity for future growth.

Dale Farm stated that the milk price paid to producers for the financial year averaged at 33.88p/L, up 5.56p/L year-on-year, becoming the highest Dale Farm has ever paid its farmers.

The prices increase takes effect when The European Milk Forum (EMF) has published a survey which reveals that over 70% of Irish dairy consumers are willing to pay more for products but only if the price increase is used to support farmers to make environmental progress so the industry is more sustainable.

Agriland reports that the Irish dairy sector has experienced substantial growth since the removal of milk quotas in 2015, with many drystock and tillage farmers switching to dairy and existing dairy farmers increasing cow numbers.

It adds that this expansion has leveled off in recent years, but growth is expected to continue at a slower rate as pressure and uncertainties with high inflation of farm inputs and the Russian war impact farms.

Milk production volumes have remained static, year-on-year, in Northern Ireland which contrasts with a 4% fall-off in Great Britain’s output in March, the company said.

The company added that the reduced level of supplies of milk volumes across Europe is driving the ongoing increases in farmgate prices being witnessed.

In terms of sustainability, Whelan said Dale Farm is committed to achieving this by making the best use of science to deliver improved farm management systems and better genetics.

She foresees a future within which all the company’s milk suppliers will be carbon footprinting their businesses, as a matter of routine.

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