Glanbia Ireland paid some €1 billion, including VAT, to 4,500 farmers across rural Ireland for milk supplies last year.
The figure was revealed at Glanbia Co-op’s annual general meeting in Kilkenny when the contribution of dairy farming to the rural economy was highlighted.
Glanbia Ireland chief executive, Jim Bergin, said payments worth €168m were made to suppliers in Co Kilkenny, €149m in Co Waterford, €124m in Co Tipperary and €122m in Co Wexford.
A 5.1% growth in milk supply in 2018 was worth over €47m extra in payments last year, which had an impact on the economies of rural Ireland and on the farms of Glanbia suppliers.
Milk supplies to Glanbia Ireland are now at 2.7 billion litres per year, with supply reaching 88 million litres per week at peak this year, compared to around 45 million per week in 2014.
In line with the growth in milk volume, Glanbia has invested €343 million in processing capacity, including investments in the Belview milk powder plant and in cheese processing in Wexford.
Glanbia chairman Martin Keane said 100% of its milk now comes from dairy farms accredited to Bord Bia’s Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme.