A newly published study on the competitiveness of the Northern Irish dairy industry has called for a greater focus on efficiency and supply chain cooperation.

The report, undertaken by Promar International, set out how the dairy sector in Northern Ireland should prepare for the EU abolition of milk quotas in 2015.

Paul Vernon, Dairy UK Northern Ireland chairman Paul Vernon, said: “We know that there will be changes in the CAP over the next few years that will have a significant impact on our industry. This report is an attempt to identify these changes, and suggest strategies that will help ensure that we continue to have a profitable dairy industry in Northern Ireland.”

Key objectives

The report lays out two key objectives for the industry, including the fostering of greater revenue generating potential and the development of closer co-operation to increase competitiveness.

To achieve these broad goals, it then goes on to present a set of strategies. Within the next decade, the authors say the industry should aim to have a Northern Irish milk pool of at least 2 billion litres a year.

In the same period, the report says the energy costs of the supply chain need to be reduced by 25 per cent to make it competitive with other regions in the UK and other country competitors. It also urges the industry to focus more generally on improving economies of scale and the pursuit of planned and sustained R&D to improve products value and efficiency.

On the subject of co-operation, the report calls for more interaction at processing level to ensure that milk is turned into products with the best returns from markets.

Implementation group

In addition, Dairy UK has agreed to set up an implementation group, responsible to the board of Dairy UK NI, which will identify and consider aspects of the report that have industry level implications.

The Promar report said the group should evaluate models for pre-competitive research, and recommend a suitable approach for Northern Ireland.

Funding for the study was provided by industry, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Invest NI.