Tirlán/Fivemiletown closes out the 2023 milk year by topping the NI milk league for December, with a price of 37.33p/l for supplies collected on alternate days.

It is the second month in a row that the Republic of Ireland-based co-op has topped the milk league, and over the course of last year, Tirlán has led our monthly analysis on five occasions.

The co-op added 1p/l to its base price for December, taking it to 31p/l. It also pays a 3p/l winter bonus and 0.4p/l sustainability premium before top-ups on milk quality are factored in.

Milk quality

The NI milk league is based on a dairy farmer supplying 750,000 litres annually at average milk solids.

For December, our calculations are for milk at 4.30% butterfat, 3.36% protein, 4.74% lactose, 19 TBC and 173 SCC, with those figures recorded by DAERA during the same month in 2022.

Milk quality is marginally lower than the November analysis, which reduces the value of solids by around 0.1 to 0.15p/l. Ultimately, the December league positions are mainly dictated by differences in base prices once the various winter bonuses are included.

Chasing pack

Despite paying the highest starting price across all processors at 35.05p/l, Dale Farm remains in second with a final price of 36.8p/l. Deductions due to milk collection leaves the co-op behind Tirlán.

Lakeland Dairies is unchanged in third on 36.08p/l, helped in part by a 1p/l increase in base price, in addition to a 3p/l winter bonus.

Suppliers to NI’s largest processor should note December is the final month this winter that the 50% increase to volume bonuses applies. For a 750,000l producer, January’s volume bonus reduces by 0.15p to 0.3p/l.

Behind Lakeland, Aurivo remains in fourth, having opted for a 1p/l increase to base price, taking it to 33.31p/l once a 2p/l winter bonus is added in.

At the bottom end of the table, Leprino Foods overtakes Strathroy for fifth, thanks mainly to a 0.4p/l mozzarella bonus and 0.5p/l sustainability premium.

Rolling 12-month average

Despite finishing bottom of the December league, Strathroy paid the highest rolling milk price over the 2023 calendar year at 35.53p/l.

The Omagh-based processor topped our monthly analysis five times during 2023 and finished second on a further four occasions, helping it rise to the top of the 12-month rolling league table for average solids.

There are no positional changes from the previous milk league, which means Dale Farm finishes in second, with Tirlán in third.

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