Tirlán has said that it is expecting to take on 45 new entrants in 2024.

The majority of these are completely new to milk production and do not have an existing milk production facility.

Since 2015, Tirlán has welcomed over 540 new entrants to its milk supply pool, including new units from existing suppliers, a company spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“New entrants are important for generational renewal in order to ensure a vibrant co-op and dairy sector.

“Based on our most recent census, new units will supply a similar milk volume to farmers retiring each year,” they said.

Tirlán has said it is interested in talking to anyone considering commencing milk production in the co-op’s catchment area.

The crossborder co-op Lakeland Dairies has had over 30 new entrants this year. This number, however, is not finalised as contact is still being made by new entrants who are expressing an interest for 2024, a Lakeland spokesperson said.

Since 2015, Lakeland Dairies has accepted over 500 new suppliers.

“Assuming more favourable weather patterns and conditions, we expect milk volumes to remain stable in 2024,” they said.

Dairygold told the Irish Farmers Journal that approximately 12 new entrants are due to start in 2024.

The average annual volume from these new entrants is expected to be 300,000 litres, according to the co-op.

Since 2015, Dairygold said that, on average, 20 new greenfield entrants start annually.

“We expect milk supply for 2024 to recover closer to 2022 milk volumes dependent on weather, “ a company spokesperson said.

Aurivo said that, in 2024, it is expecting approximately 20 new entrants.

The co-op estimates that the total volume of milk these new entrants will supply will reach 5m litres in year one rising to 6m in year two.

Since 2015, 190 new suppliers were accepted by Aurivo, 90% of whom were new to dairying.

In terms of volumes for 2024, it is budgeting for the same as 2023 supplies.

Kerry Group said it has received approximately 100 new entrants in the period from 2015 to 2023.

Although new entrant applications for 2024 are still in the single digits, Kerry is projecting that milk volumes across its catchment will be higher in 2024 than in 2023.

Milk supply

As co-ops welcome new entrants, milk volumes are back by around 10% year on year, largely due to the prolonged wet weather this spring.

Central Statistics Office (CSO) data for January shows that supply was back 20%.

This is on top of a drop of 365.5m litres or 4.1% in 2023.

Total intakes by creameries and liquid milk plants for 2023 hit 8.5bn litres, back from 8.865bn litres in 2022.

This was the first significant reduction in milk intakes by Irish dairy processors since the abolition of quotas in 2015.