Dale Farm pre­par­ing to re­port strong fig­ures as Bal­moral Show be­gins

Belfast Telegraph - - BUSINESS - BY MAR­GARET CAN­NING

NORTH­ERN Ire­land’s big­gest dairy co­op­er­a­tive has said it will be re­port­ing another strong year for mem­bers as the Bal­moral Show be­gins.

Dale Farm spoke on the open­ing day of the agri­cul­tural event out­side Lis­burn — con­firm­ing that it’s still in talks over a tiein with cross-bor­der co-op LacPa­trick.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Nick Whe­lan (be­low) said: “We look for­ward to one of the key events in the agri­cul­tural cal­en­dar, Bal­moral Show, against the back­drop of a strong fi­nan­cial year, which we will re­port in the com­ing weeks.

“Over the past 12 months, we have fo­cused on an am­bi­tious growth strat­egy to grow our pres­ence across the UK and ul­ti­mately de­liver the best pos­si­ble milk price to our farm­ers at all times.”

“In do­ing so, we have sig­nif­i­cantly strength­ened our part­ner­ships with ma­jor re­tail cus­tomers, bring­ing our prod­ucts into the hands of more con­sumers than ever be­fore.

“On a pro­duc­tion level, we have in­vested into fa­cil­i­ties and tech­nol­ogy at our fac­to­ries in North­ern Ire­land and Great Bri­tain, re­sult­ing in in­creased op­er­at­ing ef­fi­cien­cies.

“Most im­por­tantly, this is good news for the back­bone of Dale Farm — our farmer mem­bers, who con­tinue to drive the co­op­er­a­tive’s suc­cess by sup­ply­ing us with the high­est qual­ity milk.”

And he said Dale Farm will have a ma­jor pres­ence at the show.

Last month Dale Farm con­firmed it was in the run­ning for a part­ner­ship with LacPa­trick, which has around 700 farmer sup­pli­ers of milk in the bor­der coun­ties of North­ern Ire­land.

But a spokes­woman for Dale Farm said that there was no fur­ther up­date af­ter its chief ex­ec­u­tive “com­mented that Dale Farm has for­mally en­tered into a process, with a view to a po­ten­tial strate­gic col­lab­o­ra­tion”.

Dale Farm is owned by more than 1,300 dairy farm­ers across the UK. It has 10 sites across the UK and brands in­clud­ing Dale Farm Milk, Dale Farm Ice Cream, Dromona, Spelga, Fivemile­town, Mullins Ice Cream, Rowan Glen and Lose­ley.

A LacPa­trick spokesman said there was no fur­ther up­date on the process of en­ter­ing a part­ner­ship with another dairy busi­ness.

“As a com­mer­cially sen­si­tive process has com­menced, it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment on any third party.”

It’s un­der­stood that as well as Dale Farm, LacPa­trick is also in talks with Ir­ish dairy gi­ant Glan­bia, as well as cross-bor­der, Ca­van-based co-op Lake­land, and Aurivo in the west of Ire­land.

Last month LacPa­trick an­nounced that its board had “agreed on purs­ing a num­ber of strate­gic op­tions with a view to iden­ti­fy­ing the best way for­ward that is in the in­ter­est of its sup­pli­ers, share­hold­ers, staff and cus­tomers. This may or may not in­clude part­ner­ships, joint ven­tures, merg­ers and other op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­sol­i­date the dairy in­dus­try.”

LacPa­trick also con­firmed that it will have a pres­ence at the show. A spokesman said it would be present to ad­dress the con­cerns of sup­pli­ers. “We are look­ing for­ward to en­gag­ing with sup­pli­ers at the show.

“It’s the main cal­en­dar event for the vast ma­jor­ity of farm­ers and a great op­por­tu­nity to meet them and lis­ten to their con­cerns and put for­ward as to why we’re in that process of a strate­gic part­ner­ship.”

This year’s Bal­moral Show is tipped to at­tract around 115,000 vis­i­tors over four days. And it will be the first year for the show to take place with new chief ex­ec­u­tive Alan Crowe at the helm of the Royal Ul­ster Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety.

PE­TER MOR­RI­SON

Al­bert Con­nolly pre­pares his Bri­gadoon Charo­lais cat­tlefor the Bal­moral show

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