Kerry Group has stated this week that it has paid the leading milk price on a like-for-like basis for milk supplied in 2015 and all subsequent years, therefore no outstanding payments are due to farmer suppliers.
The Group said it is reaffirming its position regarding the leading milk price, “there are no outstanding payments due to milk suppliers”.
“In determining this, it is important to clarify the arbitrator’s 2019 ruling which found that the West Cork co-operatives should be treated as comparators for the purpose of the milk contract in setting the price payable for milk supplied in 2015,” the Group added.
“Arising from this, the arbitrator determined that Kerry Group should review the 2015 milk price treating the west Cork co-operatives as comparators, and assess if a revision of the 2015 milk price was required.
“The arbitrator did not make any assessment as to whether, as a result of treating the West Cork co-operative as comparators, Kerry Group owned milk suppliers any money for 2015.”
The company went on to say that the Kerry milk supply contract states that the leading milk price on a like-for-like basis shall be paid after taking account of the categories of adjustments to the headline price paid by other Irish milk processors.
“Kerry has worked with milk suppliers for nearly 50 years and is proud to continue supporting our milk suppliers,” it added.
Recently, James Doyle, a former chairman of Kerry Co-Op, said he was going back to arbitration, to finally conclude matters on behalf of the 2,700 Kerry milk suppliers that signed the original arbitration forms.
Doyle alleged that Kerry Group still owes 8c per litre to its milk suppliers for the years 2015 up to and including 2020.
This payment, which he maintains was agreed in the arbitration, equates to €40,000 owed to a Kerry milk supplier supplying 500,000 litres annually for these years, or €96m in total.
"My decision was not taken lightly, and was taken after considerable time was given to Kerry Group plc and Kerry Co-Op to finalise and payout what is owed to us milk suppliers,” he said.
“Kerry Group have tried and many feel have succeeded in distracting the board of Kerry Co-op with talks about joint ventures.
“In 2019, a decision was made which meant an extra 1.4c for suppliers, but Kerry Group said that the price of milk was being subsidised by the West Cork co-ops, and we were not entitled to that.
“Now, I am trying to finish this case because the arbitrator said that if an agreement couldn’t be reached, to come back to arbitration, so that is what I am doing now.”