A 2p/l increase to base price, along with a 3p/l winter bonus payment, puts Tirlán/Fivemiletown on top of the NI milk league for February supplies.

It is the fourth month in a row that Tirlán has led our monthly milk price analysis, with the co-op paying 39.71p/l for alternate-day milk collection during February, up 1.7p from its January price.

Tirlán and Strathroy are the only processors to pay winter bonuses in February and these premiums impacted the final league positions.

Both processors finished at the top of the table, although a gap of 2.8p/l exists between first and second, widening to more than 4p/l between first and last place.

From March to September, winter bonuses do not apply to monthly milk pricing in NI.

Milk quality

The milk league is based on a dairy farmer producing 750,000 litres annually at milk solids and monthly volumes in line with the average NI farm.

For February, final prices are based on 4.16% butterfat, 3.28% protein, 4.77% lactose, 17 TBC and 174 SCC with these figures recorded by DAERA for the same month last year.

Changing positions

Behind Tirlán, there has been some positional changes to the February league tables as all processors applied increases to base prices.

However, Strathroy remains in second place after a 1p/l price increase put suppliers on an “all-in” starting price of 35.5p/l before adjustments relating to milk quality.

The Omagh-based company paid a final league table price of 36.96p/l for February.

Dale Farm climbs one place to finish third on 36.61p/l, while Leprino Foods makes a similar gain, moving up to fourth on 36.16p/l.

Although Leprino Foods has the lowest official base at 33.75p/l, suppliers receive a 0.5p/l sustainability payment along with a 0.4p/l mozzarella bonus for milk above 4% butterfat and 3.2% protein.

At the foot of the table, a 1.25p/l price increase sees Lakeland Dairies move up one spot to fifth, which means Aurivo drops three places to finish bottom on 35.66p/l.

The west of Ireland-based co-op did increase its base price by 1.75p/l, but the loss of a 2p/l winter bonus meant its February starting price was effectively down 0.25p/l on the previous month.

Over the rolling 12-month period ending February 2024, Dale Farm has paid the highest milk price across the board at 34.53p/l.

Tirlán has moved ahead of Strathroy into second and has narrowed the gap to Dale Farm to just 0.12p/l. There are no positional changes in the bottom half of the table.

Figure 1

Shown in Figure 1 is an estimate of the payout to a 750,000l producer in February, based on the actual butterfat and protein percentages recorded by each processor that month.

With Tirlán out in front on milk price and also having the highest averages for both butterfat and protein, its payout is significantly ahead of other processors.

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