With all processors leaving milk prices unchanged for December supplies, Lakeland Dairies retains its position on top of the NI milk league for the second month in a row.

Helping Lakeland’s position is a 3p/l winter bonus on December milk on top of a 46p/l base and 1.5p/l income support payment, which put its suppliers on a starting price of 50.5p/l.

Once adjustments are made for milk quality and volume, and the co-op’s 13th payment of 0.5p/l (paid on all 2022 litres) is included, Lakeland finishes on a price of 53.15p/l for milk collected on alternate days.

Milk quality

Our monthly milk league analysis is calculated on a standard litre for a dairy farmer producing 750,000 litres annually, which is a volume similar to the average herd in NI.

Milk quality changes monthly and is the average recorded by DAERA for the same month in 2021.

This means our December analysis is calculated on milk supplied at 4.22% butterfat, 3.37% protein, 4.75% lactose, 20 TBC and 184 SCC.

These figures differ from the averages recorded by individual processors last month, so our analysis is not the same as the average monthly pay-out for each company.

For example, the Tirlán average in December 2022 was 4.39% butterfat and 3.50% protein, and this would add 1p/l to the published price.

Aurivo averaged 4.36% butterfat and 3.35% protein, adding 0.3p/l to its published price similar to Dale Farm on 4.33% butterfat and 3.39% protein.

Lakeland Dairies averaged 4.24% and 3.34% for fat and protein, and if we also factor in what the average supplier received by way of its scheme to incentivise higher solids, this would add 0.37p/l to its price.

Chasing pack

Behind Lakeland, although Tirlán/Fivemiletown held its starting milk price on 48.65p/l, it climbs two places to second thanks to a 0.85p/l back payment on all litres in 2022.

This means Dale Farm slips one place to third on 51.71p/l, having left its base price unchanged at 48.05p/l and with an additional 2p/l winter bonus applying.

Glanbia Cheese slips one place to fourth, while Aurivo and Strathroy round out the table in fifth and sixth.

From January to December 2022, Tirlán has paid the highest rolling average milk price to a 750,000-litre producer. On alternate-day collections, the co-op paid 46.12p/l, which is more than 1p/l ahead of its nearest rival, Lakeland, on 45.03p/l.

In both instances, the rolling league tables have been adjusted to account for the back payments announced in recent weeks to cover all litres supplied in 2022.

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