Northern Ireland makes up 24% of fresh milk supplies for the Republic

FRESH milk supplies from Northern Ireland accounted for 24% of the market in the Republic last year with the domestic sector providing the remaining 76%.

The imported supplies were in packaged form and in bulk to be processed for liquid consumption in the state.

These amounted to 135 million litres, an increase of 13 million litres, or 11% on the import volumes in the previous year.

Fresh milk imports as a share of the domestic market increased to 24% in 2009 compared with 21% in the previous year.

The National Milk Agency annual report also noted that the consumption of fresh milk on the domestic market decreased by 2% to 568 million litres.

It said fresh milk continued as an excellent, value for money, healthy, nutritious, product with the average annual retail price being virtually unchanged compared with the previous year.

Producers’ share of the average annual retail whole milk price in one litre packs, however, fell to 26%, the lowest on record, compared with 34% in 2008.

Denis Murphy, chairman, said the farming sector experienced its worst income crisis in a generation in 2009 due to falling product prices across all sectors, reduced output, reductions in farm grants, high costs and adverse, wet, weather conditions.

The year ended with widespread flooding from the wettest November in the past 150 years and the coldest winter in over 60 years.

Despite the appalling winter weather conditions in 2009/10 there was no shortage or disruption of domestic milk supplies for processing for liquid consumption.

“For the Irish dairy sector 2009 was a challenging and dismal year for both producers and processors. Domestic milk supplies fell by 3% to the lowest level in almost 30 years and were 10% below the EU quota,” he said.

He noted the monthly producer prices for manufacturing milk fell to 1986 levels and below the cost of production.

The average annual producer price for manufacturing milk fell by 32% to just over 22 c/litre, excluding vat, and almost wiped out the net margin (before direct payments) of the average dairy farmer.

Average producer price for milk processed for liquid consumption in 2009 fell by 22% to 29.17 c/litre, excluding vat and was the lowest since the early 1990s.

The differential between the average producer price for liquid milk and the annual, average, producer price for manufacturing milk increased to 7.13 c/litre, the highest on record.

Mr Murphy said: “Producer milk prices are beginning to increase. The outlook is positive.”


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