For the first time since March 2019, Dale Farm leads the NI milk league, paying 35.22p/l for milk collected on alternate days.

Having finished runner up in the league from March to September of this year, a 1p/l increase in base price and 2p/l winter bonus were the key factors propelling Dale Farm into first place, breaking Glanbia Ireland’s six-month run at the top.

While Glanbia Ireland has dominated our analysis of prices paid in 2021, it is Dale Farm that has had the highest monthly base price across all processors over the last 12 months.

Once deductions are applied, in particular, transport costs, Dale Farm has tended to slip behind Glanbia in 2021. However, the price increase and winter bonus are enough to leave Dale Farm ahead this time around.

Its October base of 33.8p/l, which includes the 2p/l winter bonus, is the highest base the co-op has ever set, and the highest base of any NI processor since December 2013.

Milk quality

For the calculations used in the October milk league, butterfat is set at 4.24%, protein at 3.41%, lactose at 4.67%, 20 TBC and 203 SCC.

Those figures are taken from DAERA statistics for the same month in 2020.

Both butterfat and protein are significantly higher than those used in the September league, with the differential worth an extra 0.4p/l to suppliers.

Changing positions

With winter bonus payments coming into play for October, there have been significant positional changes within the league table.

Climbing four places to second is Aurivo after it raised its base by 0.5p/l to 30.75p/l. Including a 2p/l winter bonus, its final price is 34.75p/l.

Glanbia Cheese moves up one spot to third on 34.05p/l. Again, its final price was also boosted by a 2p/l winter bonus and 0.5p/l increase in base price.

Glanbia Ireland/Fivemiletown and Lakeland are the only processors that don’t pay a winter bonus for October milk.

As a result, Glanbia has slipped three places to fourth, while Lakeland is bottom, having paid from the lowest base price of 30.5p/l.

Its 3p/l winter bonus in November normally leaves Lakeland top of our league in that month. However, it will probably also need to lift base price if that is to be achieved this year.

12-month rolling average

Despite finishing in mid-table for October, Glanbia Ireland remains out in front for average milk prices paid over the past 12 months.

For milk collected on alternate days, Glanbia Ireland paid 30.85p/l which is 0.12p/l ahead of its closest competitor, Lakeland Dairies. Dale Farm climbs one place to fourth, overtaking Glanbia Cheese.

For daily collections, Glanbia Ireland leads on 30.58p/l followed by Glanbia Cheese on 30.44p/l. There are no positional changes from the previous month.

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