Dairygold chief executive Jim Woulfe has announced he will retire at the end of this year.

Woulfe informed the board of Dairygold Co-op at a meeting on Tuesday night of his intention to step down from his role as CEO by the end of the year.

A native of Co Limerick, Woulfe has worked for Dairygold Co-op for more than 42 years and spent the last 12 years as CEO of the co-op.

Woulfe graduated from UCC with a degree in dairy science and first joined Mallow-based Ballyclough Co-op in 1979.

After Dairygold was established in 1990 following the merger of Ballyclough Co-op and Mitchelstown Co-op, Woulfe held a number of senior management roles within the newly created entity, including head of milk supplies, head of human resources and head of agri-business.

CEO appointment

In 2009, Woulfe was appointed CEO of Dairygold and has overseen the co-op's major expansion programme to facilitate the end of milk quotas in 2015.

During his time at the helm, Dairygold’s turnover has almost doubled, going from €555m in 2009 to just over €1bn in 2020.

In the same period, Dairygold’s milk pool has grown by more than 70% from 838m litres in 2009 to a record 1.43bn litres last year.

Along with strategic partners, the co-op has invested €425m over the course of the last decade to handle this increase in milk supply and can boast one of the best invested network of milk processing sites in Ireland.


“It has been a huge honour and a privilege to have worked with the Dairygold board, management, staff, shareholders and customers during my term as CEO, in leading the Dairygold organisation through a period of substantial change and growth. I am very proud of Dairygold today, the strength of the business, its members and the leadership team,” said Woulfe.

“I have enjoyed every year of my 42 years working in Dairygold and the Irish agri and dairy industry. I sincerely thank the many stakeholders in the business for the tremendous support I have been given over the years.

"In my decision to retire, I believe that the business is in a good place and that now is the right time to pass the baton on to the next CEO who will work with a strong leadership team to continue to take the Dairygold organisation forward to its next stage of strategic growth,” he added.

Dairygold said it will now commence the process to recruit a successor to Woulfe.


In thanking the outgoing CEO for his service to the co-op, Dairygold chair John O’Gorman said Woulfe had shown "outstanding vision" during his time in charge.

“Jim has provided Dairygold with an outstanding performance throughout his career and in particular as CEO from July 2009 to date, he has worked with the board and enthusiastically led the business through 12 years of substantial transformation,” said O’Gorman.

“The growth arising has been substantially underpinned by the society’s need to accommodate post-quota milk expansion, which required a major capital investment programme during the past decade.

"This highly successful capital investment programme has regenerated and transformed the society’s dairy processing sites in Mitchelstown, Mallow and Mogeely into world-class dairy processing facilities capable of processing projected milk growth up to and beyond peak-milk 2025,” he added.