There is a gap of almost €18,000 per farm between the bottom-paying, Lakeland Dairies, and the top-paying, west Cork co-ops, in 2023 so far. That’s €18,000 or €180 per cow on your typical 100-cow herd, delivering 500,000 litres in a spring milk supply pattern.

We are in February 2024 and the final payments for 2023 are still not finalised for milk suppliers.

Last week, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) confirmed total milk delivery volumes for 2023, so the creation of Table 1 using actual delivery volumes is possible.

Some co-ops will wait until annual general meetings in March and April before they finalise payments on 2023 milk deliveries.

Conditional bonuses

Conditional bonuses are not included in this analysis. What are they? The likes of somatic cell count (SCC) bonuses for milk under 200,000 SCC, as well as bonuses for trading purchases.

So, Table 1 is the base payment, but it does include flat rate, unconditional, bonuses like what Dairygold and Kerry announced at year-end as a top-up to the monthly prices.

The west Cork co-ops pay a significant bonus for milk supplied less than 200,000 cells/ml and this is not included in the analysis here.

A large proportion of suppliers to the four west Cork co-ops would get that in addition to the money displayed in the table. That would be another €2,500 to €3,000 for many suppliers on top of the €218,000 listed.

This analysis is based on tracking the payments in the monthly milk league. It is not verified by an independent auditor and it is only one measure of how the co-op is performing.

It is not the final summary of 2023 yet, but we will revisit this exercise when further information is available.

Essentially, the table reflects the fact that there was a difference of between 3c/l and 4c/l in milk price over peak milk in May and June between the top-paying west Cork co-ops and those in the bottom division, such as Lakeland, Aurivo, Tipperary and Kerry.