Processing and marketing reform call for dairy sector

NEW processing and marketing structures in the dairy industry are now urgent, a co-op leader has claimed.

Connacht Gold chief executive Aaron Forde told an Irish Farmers Association seminar in Athlone last night that Ireland’s main competitors have more concentrated businesses at farm, processing and marketing levels.

The industry in Ireland is capital and energy intensive. Returns from processing milk have been low and businesses will lose money this year.

Mr Forde said: “We operate largely the same key processes that have served the industry for 100 years. These no longer fit the new world we now live in.”

Mr Forde said joint processing recent agreements forged between processors have helped optimise plant utilisation, cut costs and reduce capital investment.

He said that as milk production grows joined-up thinking around investing in product sectors and marketing is required.

“Could we move from the co-processing model to a more structured system where, with the assets of willing participants and the involvement of the Irish Dairy Board, a jointly held structure would make the decisions on the most efficient processing arrangements?

“The examination of new processing and marketing structures is now urgent. The planning cycle is long and the market will make the decisions for us if we fail to act,” he said.

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