Speaking today on FAO’s 15th World Milk Day, IFA National Liquid Milk Chairman John Finn said it was important to remember that while Ireland is on an expansion trajectory for its dairy output, fresh liquid milk produced by specialist producers year-round at a substantially higher cost must not be taken for granted.
“Irish specialist liquid milk producers supply high-quality, locally produced fresh milk daily, including over the winter months, so that consumers can be assured of availability on the supermarket shelf all year round,” Mr Finn said.
“They do so at a substantially higher cost than creamery milk producers, who supply 90% of all the milk in Ireland, and whose milk is processed mostly for export,” he said.
“Recent analysis we commissioned from Teagasc’s liquid and winter milk expert Dr Joe Patton showed that, to cover costs and pay themselves a modest wage, liquid milk producers needed to earn an average of 40c/l across the whole year. This was recently confirmed by research carried out by FDC Accountants in Cork, based on their own liquid milk customer base, as being the cost of producing liquid milk in the last couple of years. Yet, 2015/16 annualised average milk prices paid to specialist producers were at least 8c/l below that level,” he said.
“Irish consumers have proved time and again that they value their locally produced fresh quality milk, by embracing the National Dairy Council guarantee. We need dairies and retailers to ensure that consumers continue at all times to have the choice to support our fresh milk, and can be assured of finding it on the shelves in July or in December,” he said.
“On this World Milk Day, I urge dairies and retailers to take their full responsibility in ensuring farmers can be remunerated sustainably for the quality product they supply. For 2016/17, in light of much weaker creamery milk prices, this must mean substantially increased winter payments for liquid milk producers,” he concluded.