Lakeland Dairies has climbed four places to finish top of the NI milk league for March, paying 30.64p/l for milk collected on alternate days.

All processors, with the exception of Strathroy Dairy, increased base prices for milk supplied in March.

Aurivo, Glanbia Cheese, Glanbia Ireland/Fivemiletown and Lakeland all added 0.75p/l to milk prices when compared to the previous month, with Dale Farm applying the largest increase of 1p/l.

March is the first month since September that no winter bonus payments were made by any processor on top of base price.

As a result, the range in prices paid has narrowed significantly. Just 0.77p/l separates top to bottom, with just 0.19p/l between first and fifth positions.

Milk quality

The NI milk league compares prices paid by processors to a 650,000 litre producer of average-quality milk.

For March, the calculations are based on the official figures recorded by DAERA for the same month in 2020, when butterfat averaged 4.12%, protein was at 3.28%, lactose was at 4.76%, TBC was at 18 and SCC was at 186.

Transport cost

Across all processors, Dale Farm paid from the highest base price at 29.55p/l, (a price that includes its 0.3p/l loyalty bonus).

However, Lakeland edges out Dale Farm for top spot as it applies zero charges for milk collected on alternate days, and also pays a bonus at the outlined TBC.

Climbing one place to third is Glanbia Cheese on 30.54p/l. Its positon is boosted by a 0.4p/l mozzarella bonus for milk produced above 4% butterfat and 3.2% protein.

Without its 1.5p/l winter bonus payment that applied in February, Glanbia Ireland/Fivemiletown slips to joint fourth place for March.

From April onwards, suppliers of Glanbia Ireland will move to a new payment system for milk which will also include a volume bonus for the first time, as well as dropping collection charges.

That leaves Aurivo in sixth, while Strathroy slips to last place.

12-month average

Over the 12-month period ending March 2021, Glanbia Ireland/Fivemiletown continues to pay the highest rolling milk price for alternate and daily collections.

However, on alternate day collection, the gap to third-placed Lakeland has narrowed to just 0.05p/l. Glanbia Cheese overtakes Strathroy for fourth, with Dale Farm moving up one place to sixth.

For daily collection, Glanbia Cheese is now in third spot, with Strathroy slipping to fourth, and Lakeland, Aurivo and Dale farm rounding out the table.

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