Co-op society says dairy industry chiefs agree to wide-ranging review

DAIRY industry leaders have agreed to assess their options for the future, the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) has confirmed.

It said the leaders including the chairman and chief executives of all dairy processing co-operatives and the Irish Dairy Board have opted for the move.

They have agreed to commission an independent review of dairy industry requirements for the future.

Consultants have been appointed and all participants have agreed to feed information into the process.

This will quantify the relative strengths of the industry at present and its preparedness for the challenges ahead.

Based on the inputs from members, the review will analyse the possible benefits of structural reorganisation as well as the associated costs.

The development forms part of the ICOS process of senior level dairy industry meetings aimed at achieving greater co-operation across the industry for the future.

It occurs at a time of significant potential change in the industry with yesterday’s announcement that Glanbia Co-op is in talks to buy the Irish business of Glanbia Plc and the reported Kerry Group bid for Newmarket Co-op in north-west Cork.

While the exact terms of reference for the review have not been published, the group of dairy industry leaders has previously agreed on the priority issues for evaluation. These include price volatility and preparation for milk expansion when quota is removed.

The priorities also include funding for future processing investment, getting the best value from investments with a view towards avoiding duplication of facilities and achieving the best return for dairy farmers from current and expanded milk production.

ICOS president Pat McLoughlin said all participating co-ops are taking this process very seriously.

They are mindful of their responsibility to their own members to ensure that any proposals for change are fully analysed and costed. This is what the review is seeking to quantify on an independent basis.

“This is an important step as progress can only be achieved where a reliable overview position is developed and agreed among the participants,” Mr McLoughlin said.

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