Belfast Telegraph

Dairy co-op is 'Brexit-ready' with logistics team in place

Lakeland chairman: Alo Duffy
Lakeland chairman: Alo Duffy
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

A dairy co-op on track to become one of the largest processors on the island with 1,500 suppliers locally has said it is Brexit-ready, but anticipates a "considerable volume" of extra work to keep trade flowing.

Lakeland Dairies in Cavan said it had put in place all necessary contingency plans to ensure it continues exporting over 240 products to 80 predominantly non-EU countries, including China.

A spokesman for the co-op, which has operations in the Republic and the UK, said it will "retain the capability and flexibility to sell and distribute directly" to all its customers including those around the world.

"We have identified all the relevant tariff categories that would apply to exported products," he said.

"We have a highly qualified export logistics team in place who will also be capable of supporting requirements for customs declarations and veterinary and phytosanitary standards.

"In addition, we have long standing relationships and work with a range of export management agents who are also putting plans in place for any measures which will be required."

The company's exports logistics team uses advanced computerised supply chain management systems and is prepared for "a lot of the new requirements" which may arise.

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"They will require additional certification and documentation and this can be handled predominantly through existing automated processes albeit there will potentially be a considerable volume of extra work required," the spokesman added.

The company did not reveal the commercial cost of its preparations.

A planned merger between the Cavan co-operative and LacPatrick in Monaghan is currently the subject of a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation.

Phase one of the watchdog's probe to establish if the merger would result "in a substantial lessening of competition" is due to be completed by March 13.

The Belfast Telegraph understands the CMA is not likely to conclude that competition will be affected.

If approved the new Lakeland Dairies co-op will become the second-largest dairy processor on the island with 1,500 farmers in Northern Ireland and 1,700 in the Republic contributing to a milk pool of 1.8bn litres.

Alo Duffy, chairman of Lakeland, which also owns the Pritchitts processing centre in Newtownards, previously said the merged companies would pay a "sustainable and competitive milk price in line with market conditions".

However, the plans are also subject to the regulatory approval of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in the Republic, which is still ongoing.

Despite having confidence in its preparations the co-op has called for clarity on future trading arrangements as it warned that a no-deal or the establishment of a hard border is not in "anyone's best interest".

"What we need now is certainty from the ongoing process between the UK and EU as to what a deal or no-deal outcome will look like for exporters and the wider business community who engage in cross border trade," the Lakeland spokesman added.

Belfast Telegraph